Digital transformation an important skill but difficult to access in SG, finds study

Digital transformation and change management expertise was cited by employers in Singapore as the most important skill (35%) to the company's digitisation plans. At the same time, it was listed by 29% of employers as the skill that was most difficult to access in Singapore, according to a survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed. It surveyed 1,000 employees and 250 employers in the technology, banking, finance and enterprise sectors in Singapore between 1 to 4 March.

Meanwhile, AI/machine learning/automation (25%) and coding/programming/software development (22%) were the next two most important skills for a company. They were also among the top three skills that employers found most difficult to access in Singapore.

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Companies' emphasis on digital transformation is also in line with employee's interests, with 26% of those surveyed indicating this as their top area of interest. This was followed by data analytics (23%) and cybersecurity (18%). Meanwhile, majority of employees (48%) believe that skills such as leadership, creativity and teamwork as well as technological skills are equally important. This is a stark difference compared to 43% of employers who feel that technological skills such as coding and data analysis are more useful than soft skills. On the other hand, 38% say soft skills such as leadership, creativity and teamwork are more useful.

As Singapore works towards becoming a Smart Nation, the country is doubling down on efforts to accelerate the growth of new digital capabilities for its enterprises and workers to emerge stronger. Deputy prime minister and minister for finance Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget 2021 speech in February that the government will develop digital leaders by building a local core of enterprises which are digital leaders that can compete regionally and globally. It will also will scale broad-based digitalisation by offering SMEs access to relevant digitalisation resources and advisory.

Meanwhile, the key pillars that support Singapore's Smart Nation goals are digital economy, digital government, and digital society. When asked if employees approved of the government's plans to improve technology skills, 89% of them either strongly approve or approve of Smart Nation. Majority of employees surveyed (83%) also know of Smart Nation. On the employer front, 57% said a government-led digital transformation will help the industry digitise by building digital culture and infrastructure. The government's efforts, however, are also a double edged sword for 41% of employers also stated that this will hamper the industry's digitisation by competing for hard-to-find talent.

According to Indeed Asia Pacific's employer brand programme manager Sabrina Zolkifi, the research showed the agility and acceptance of technology among Singapore businesses and the local workforce. She added that the data shows how both employers and workers are embracing greater flexibility in work methods and leaning into the tech skills challenge, with emphasis on mental health and remote work support.

"What we are seeing from this research is that companies are navigating an incredibly disruptive year through the help of technology, and empowering their workforce with the necessary skills," Sabrina added.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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