News: Inside Singapore’s healthcare worker shortage

Talent Acquisition

Inside Singapore’s healthcare worker shortage

Amidst an ageing population, Singapore faces a healthcare talent crisis. Here's how leaders plan to close the gap.
Inside Singapore’s healthcare worker shortage

Singapore’s “rapidly ageing population” has led to an increasing demand for healthcare services. The demographic shift is putting pressure on the country’s healthcare system, according to a survey of industry leaders.

Exacerbating this challenge is Singapore’s shortage of healthcare professionals. A recent study by the NTUC LearningHub showed 9 in 10 healthcare leaders pointing to an ongoing scarcity of talent in their industry. The results suggest the urgent need for specific measures to develop the workforce, among them:

• Offering more competitive salary and benefit packages (57%)
• Promoting preventive health care (41%)
• Streamlining shift schedules (37%)
• Adopting technology to lighten administrative tasks (36%)
• Providing continuous training opportunities (35%)

Apart from highlighting immediate solutions, the study also stressed the value of supporting healthcare professionals’ career journey more holistically by providing them the leeway to 1) adopt new skills and 2) advance in their careers.

Healthcare leaders believe professionals can easily “switch roles or career paths” within the industry (75%), while others see career advancement opportunities for professionals (66%).

“To bridge the manpower gap, employers must therefore champion the long-term employability of their workforce and prioritise their ongoing learning and skills development,” said Tay Ee Learn, Chief Sector Skills Officer at NTUC LearningHub.

Tay said industry-recognised professional certifications enable talent to “take on in-demand roles in this growing sector”.

Challenges persist, however. The leaders surveyed said career growth is often hindered by the need for additional retraining (62%) and the lack of sufficient transferable skills (49%).

The barriers to training Singapore’s healthcare workforce

There was consensus among the leaders that career mobility in health care required ongoing learning and skills development. Given the current demands on the workforce, however, most healthcare professionals find it difficult to go in for training. These barriers include:

• Staff shortage and high workload (71%)
• The lack of incentives to upskill (59%)
• Difficulty in coordinating large-scale training due to shift work (40%)

Industry leaders believe these barriers to training can be overcome by streamlining shift schedules and using tech to alleviate the pressures of admin work. Leaders are looking to adopt tech in leveraging telemedicine services (64%); automating/streamlining operational and logistical processes (63%); and expediting treatment for patients through quicker and more precise diagnosis (58%).

The most in-demand roles and skills in health care

Four in five healthcare employers (81%) plan to hire this year, with the following roles as the most in-demand: healthcare assistants (35%); logistics or operations personnel (27%); and community care service workers (17%).

Skills transfer remains crucial to closing the talent shortage in health care. Leaders cited the top 3 training areas for workers: effective client communication (44%); data analytics (42%); and service excellence (33%).

Meanwhile, the top 5 core skills that leaders want to cultivate in their workforce include:

• Adaptability (63%)
• Problem-solving (61%)
• Communication (59%)
• Learning agility (55%)
• Customer orientation (55%)

“This underscores the need for a highly skilled and digitally empowered workforce, especially given the digital transformation of the sector,” Tay said, adding that this “holistic skill set” is vital to “facilitating optimal care for patients while keeping healthcare professionals nimble”.

The study by NTUC LearningHub, Industry Insights Report 2024 on Healthcare, provides a close examination of the challenges and opportunities for hiring and skilling talent in the industry.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Skilling, Training & Development

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