Workflow automation is fairly well adopted in Singapore and will likely become even more widespread this year, according to a new industry report by NTUC LearningHub. The report shows that 75 percent of employers already have some form of experience in workflow automation; 25 percent plan to adopt it within the next 12 months; and most importantly, 81 percent believe it will improve the quality of employees' work, but without replacing them altogether.
But at the same time, companies in Singapore struggle with automation. 71 percent feel they need to think harder about its applications, suggesting that they may find the use case outweighed by the obstacles. In fact, the majority of employers seem to face difficulties in even making use of the technology, with 63 percent saying they lack the background knowledge to utilize it and almost as many (62 percent) saying they have trouble establishing the workflow they want.
A shortage of talent makes matters worse. According to the report, there is a “lack of workers trained in automation across the nation” that hampers companies in adopting the technology. 41 percent of employers are not confident that their workforce has the right competencies to implement it. And 58 percent say that job seekers are apparently not interested in the field, even though employers are offering a premium for automation talent.
On top of this, the report found that there is a lack of buy-in from the workforce, possibly because employees fear that they will lose their jobs to the technology. But in fact, only 1 in 20 jobs will be that severely affected by automation, according to Anthony Chew, Director of ICT Product Division at NTUC LearningHub.
“It is key that business leaders assuage any anxiety their workers might have of new technologies so that they can truly harness the power of automated systems. Employees must also see the adoption of workflow automation as an opportunity to thrive in areas involving critical thinking and decision-making—skills which are irreplaceable by machines. This is why we urge workers to learn about workflow automation in order to fully understand and best utilize it, rather than to fear it,” he says.
On the bright side, figures from NTUC LearningHub show that during 2020, there was an increase in the number of people signing up for courses related to workflow automation, possibly related to the surge in demand for automation talent during the pandemic.