Hays: Pandemic boosts priority to upskill among MY and SG employees

The drive to learn and upskill is important to majority of professionals in Malaysia (94%) and Singapore (88%) as a result of the pandemic, especially in the areas of digital and remote working skills and e-learning. This was according to a Hays report titled “Uncovering the DNA of the future workplace in Asia”, which surveyed more than 9,000 respondents across Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.

While 42% of Malaysian professionals believe their current skill sets would remain relevant in the next two to three years, including hard skills (81%), 72% of them thought their soft skills could improve. They are now prioritising digital skills development (89%), reskilling (83%), and e-learning opportunities (78%) over all else. According to Hays, the rise in importance of digital skills development and reskilling is a region-wide trend that is likely rooted in the ongoing uncertainty.

Although half of employers in Malaysia currently offer ways for e-learning (50%), the report found that less offer avenues for digital skills development (29%), reskilling (24%), remote orientation (28%), and remote leadership training (16%). This indicates a lag in the remote mindset of employees versus employers, Hays said.

Additionally, 64% of Malaysian professionals believe that increased training and development opportunities along with redesigning existing roles into hybrid or part-time, for example, will allow their companies to be future-ready. Majority of them (85%) said their company’s digitalisation journey was important to them regardless of their role, with video conferencing software (85%) and remote working access (83%) being the most important tools when considering joining a new workplace.

Overall, Hays found that Malaysian professionals are confident that their organisation is “sufficiently placed” to achieve its goals and maintain relevancy in the next three to five years (55%) than they were following the pandemic (43%). Despite the increase, the report pointed out that this Malaysia still scored the lowest in Asia after Japan (43%).

Likewise in Singapore, upskilling has also seen a resurgence as a result of the pandemic, with technical skills development (67%) and leadership training (65%) being priority areas. The circuit breaker implemented in Singapore last year and the proliferation of remote working exacerbated the need for remote orientation and remote leadership training. E-learning is also seen by employees as a quick and easy way to upskill and remain competitive in the market.

However, Hays found that the number of employers that offer training in digital skills (29%), reskilling (18%), remote orientation training (32%) and remote leadership training (13%) remains low, with the exception of e-learning (47%).

Despite this, 58% of Singaporean professionals are confident that their organisation’s current digitalisation journey will remain relevant in the next three to five years, up from 43% who thought so before the pandemic. The report explained that the growth in confidence is visible from the high levels of technology adoption in Singapore pre and following the pandemic outbreak. The use of cloud-based systems, however, indicated room for further investment into sound technical infrastructure.

The implementation of cloud-based systems will be necessary to make a significant and permanent shift to remote working for the long term. Majority of respondents (68%) also said cloud computing was important for them when considering a new employer, as compared to only 11% who thought so at the start of 2020. However, the overall acceleration has been promising and fitting of the majority of respondents who said their organisation’s digitalisation journey was important to them, regardless of their role. According to Hays, this is a number that remained unchanged in both studies.

Hays surveyed 4,058 respondents pre-COVID between January to February across the five markets it is present in. It then resurveyed the five markets for a second study between August to September 2020 when most companies across Asia were operating under a “new era of work” model, reaching out to 5,477 individuals for the report.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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