Insufficient efforts to upskill workers despite recognising importance

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

As workforce upskilling tops the national agenda in the wake of the pandemic, more employers say that sending their workers for training will help their businesses to develop stronger resilience during this downturn (93% in 2021 vs 84% in 2020).  

However, not all of them are taking action to ensure their workforce are equipped with future skills, with only less than two thirds of employers (62%) currently training or intending to train their workforce. This is one of the key findings in the recent NTUC LearningHub‘s Employer Skills Survey report.

The survey, which was conducted in February 2021 with business leaders across Singapore, aimed to uncover the most in-demand skillsets a year post-pandemic. The findings include the top skills by industry cluster: Built Environment, Essential Domestic Services, Lifestyle, Manufacturing and Professional Services, and Trade and Connectivity.

Businesses in severely affected industries — i.e., Tourism, Aviation, Retail, Food Services, Land Transport and Arts and Culture — are more likely to train their employees (as voted by 73%) in contrast to other industries (57% average). Training employees during the downturn encourages them to develop stronger resilience, in case of similar events in the future.

In addition, the survey uncovered that of those who are sending their employees for training, more are keen on upskilling their workforce in technical, adaptive and digital skills, as compared to completely reskilling them.

Specifically, they are focusing on deepening employees’ technical competencies relevant to their current roles (66%), improving their adaptive skills (65%) and equipping them with more general technology-related skills (57%).

By contrast, slightly more than half (52%) of employers are seeking to completely reskill their employees with technical skills unrelated to their current roles.

Commenting on the findings, NTUC LHUB’s Director of Technical Skills Product Division, Tay Ee Learn, says, “While many employers see the value of skills training, there is a mismatch in the action taken to upskill their workforce.

“We observe that this is often due to the lack of awareness of training support available or that employers simply do not know where to start.”

“We recommend that companies take the first step by fostering a culture of lifelong learning.  There are many training support and schemes available for employers to leverage, including the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP) and Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) Enhanced Funding.

“We urge companies to take the step to speak to our NTUC LHUB consultants to find out more on such scheme,” he added.

For operationally intense companies could provide their employees with readily available training content that is bite-sized and on-demand, such as LHUB GO Enterprise, he continued, concluding that “this would encourage self-directed learning on-the-go and eliminate challenges such as time constraint or lack of learning resources.”