37 percent of companies in Singapore are prioritising upskilling and reskilling in 2021 to remain competitive, according to Mercer's 2021 Global Talent Trends Survey. But they aren't ready to incentivise their employees to upskill or reskill: only 9 percent are planning to reward skills acquisition, compared to a 15 percent global average.
This is still a comparatively better scenario than in Hong Kong, where the survey found that even fewer employers are prioritising skilling or willing to pay for skills.
In contrast, companies in Singapore appear to be strengthening their learning and development infrastructure—creating a 'push' factor to make it easier for employees to acquire skills—with 44 percent saying they plan to expand their talent and learning ecosystem, 31 percent planning to undertake 'significant workforce transformation', and 21 percent actually planning to increase their workforce skilling spend across the entire organisation.
Many companies also have specific outcomes in mind for their upskilling efforts. 41 percent are prioritising their business competitiveness by targeting the talent pools they have identified as critical. And a small number—13 percent—are actually prioritising saving jobs, by planning to reskill those most at risk of displacement. However, they may be hampered by a lack of knowledge about their existing skill pools. Only about a quarter of Singapore companies are gathering information on their employees' current skills, and only 15 percent are developing a skills taxonomy to actually analyse which skills are in demand and which have more value.
Nevertheless, Mercer's research found that many HR professionals already have a good idea of which skills are critical for future resilience. The survey identified core or soft skills, also dubbed 'skills that build skills', as important to HR leaders. Some popular ones include adaptability, collaboration, digital dexterity, and even self-management and prioritisation. This finding aligns with the results of a different survey by NTUC LearningHub, which earlier this year indicated that employers are keen on soft skills that focus on managing interactions and relationships.