Companies remain sluggish in upskilling employees

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Workforce learning has become increasingly crucial to help maintain economic productivity by improving workforce competencies. However, only half (51%) of business leaders say they have sent their workers for training in the past six months.

In addition, many (78%) business leaders who report having vacant job roles are facing challenges in filling these vacancies at their companies.  

These were some of the key findings from a recent labour research on the Continuing Education and Training (CET): Now and What Could Be Next, by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Strategy, in partnership with NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB).

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The research surveyed a total of 564 business leaders across industries in Singapore, such as Manufacturing, Information and Communications, Financial and Insurance Services, Wholesale and Retail Trade, and Professional Services.

Business leaders (63%) reveal that skills mismatch is the most prevalent form of mismatches, as compared to wages mismatch (17%), experience mismatch (18%), and expectations mismatch (2%).

The top three industries most concerned about skills mismatch are public administration, real estate services, and wholesale and retail trade.

The top challenge for business leaders to send their workers for training is financial costs (38%), followed by difficulties in identifying relevant courses (37%), and matching employees to training (33%).

To encourage them to send their workers for training, business leaders say that provision of higher training subsidies (73%) and business consultancy services (55%) would serve as incentives.

In view of the demand for higher training subsidies, three in four (75%) of business leaders say that they have participated in training-related initiatives by the Government, or Labour Movement.

However, the overall utilisation of initiatives remains low at an average of 14%. It is therefore plausible that with the wide variety of training-related initiatives targeted at helping employers, most are unsure of which initiative would best address their concerns.

NTUC will continue to offer support through its Training & Placement (T&P) ecosystem to help companies better access and leverage these initiatives. Unions (17.9%) remain one of the top three avenues where business leaders have heard of training-related initiatives, with the others being Human Resource Departments in the company (27.5%) and Government websites (25.9%).

In addition, it was uncovered that unionised companies are more likely to invest in training for their workers. Out of the business leaders who sent their employees for training in the past six months, 57% were unionised companies while 37% were non-unionised companies. 

NTUC LHUB’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Ong, says, “One of the ways to overcome the challenge of filling job vacancies is to upskill and uplift current employees, as building on existing talents is more cost-effective than hiring new talents. At NTUC LearningHub, we support business leaders by driving human-centric company transformation through outcomes-focused training. Existing employees know the business the best, in terms of company goals, values, policies and even culture, so the transition will be less disruptive.

“More importantly, employees will feel empowered to step up and contribute more to the organisation through expanding their know-hows in technical and technology skills. Therefore, career and skills development through training is a key employee value proposition as it demonstrates companies’ vested interest in the long-haul, to learn and grow together.”