9 in 10 employees fear lack in data skills will create challenges

Photo by Kevin Ku

As the COVID-19 economy spurs businesses to increase their reliance of data analytics and business intelligence, employees face the pressure of keeping pace with the evolving workplace demands.

A large majority of employees (92%) say that they could be able to do their job better if they were more data literate, while to a similar measure, 89% say they experience challenges at work due to the lack of data-related skillsets.

These were some of the key findings revealed in the recently launched NTUC LearningHub Data Skills Report, which features insights from industry leaders such as global tech giant IBM, Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank and leading analytics software company Qlik.

The report, entitled ‘A View From the Ground: Closing the Data Skills Gap in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond’ uncovers both employers’ and employees’ views on the degree of reliance on data and business intelligence in Singapore’s business landscape, the general perception about the data-related competencies of the nation’s workforce, hiring trends and preferences of businesses here, and recommendations for closing skills gaps in order for businesses and workers to remain competitive.

Among other challenges, employees have voiced that not being competent in data results in their inability to measure work outcomes (59%), becoming outdated on current and future business practices (56%) or inability to do their jobs well (55%).

In addition, while employees voted Data Analysis (voted by 63%), Data Interpretation for Decision Making in Business (voted by 50%), and Data Protection and Risk Management (voted by 48%) as the most necessary data skills for their businesses, these skills were perceived as those in which they lack, as voted by 37%, 30% and 27% of employees, respectively.

When asked about how the lack of data skills impacted their careers, 87% of employees raised concerns such as a falling behind their colleagues in work performance (68%), becoming less useful to their companies (64%), and having lesser chance of a job promotion (57%).

Commenting on the findings, NTUC LearningHub’s CEO Kwek Kok Kwong said that in this new decade, data literacy will evolve as a basic literacy skill for Worker 4.0 — our future workers. Nonetheless, he reassured employees that the skill is “learnable” and not “reserved for an elite few”.