understanding employees in Singapore

Other reasons for wanting to move jobs include: looking to explore new roles (44%); looking to explore a new industry (35%), and lack of growth in current job (32%). 

More than seven in 10 (71%) employees in Singapore are optimistic about the general outlook of the local job market, according to NTUC LearningHub’s Emerging Jobs and Skills report. This translates to approximately seven in ten employees either actively looking or being open to job opportunities. In fact, overall, 30% of employees are not looking for a new job; 10% are actively looking for a new job, and 60% are open but not actively looking for a new job.

As to what job roles the employees are "keen to explore", analysts behind this report - after surveying 450 employees across six industry sectors such as manufacturing, built environment, trade & connectivity, and more in December 2021 - discovered that:

  • More than half (52%) are keen on data management positions in the data science field;
  • Close to half (46%) are keen on digital marketing positions in the marketing field, and
  • Four in 10 (40%) are keen on leadership & management positions in the business & sales field.

While employees are open to job opportunities, they are in fact also worried about their own job stability in the era of digital transformation - more than eight in 10 (81%) have voiced their concerns around this. Delving deeper, more than three in 10 (31%) "believe" that they will be replaced due to the lack of skills amidst digital transformation, and three in 10 (30%) "fear" that digitalisation will render their role redundant as tasks will be driven by artificial intelligence. On top of that, more than a quarter hold the view that technology adoption will lead to an overall decrease in jobs.

As such, many employees intrinsically see the need to upgrade their skills "to move into a more resilient industry" - close to six in 10 (59%) said so. That said, there is a small group (14%) who thinks otherwise ('No'), and close to three in 10 (27%) are 'not sure'. Focusing on the 'yes' narrative, more than nine in 10 feel the need to upskill to keep themselves relevant in their current role for the next two years, and more than six in 10 (62%) say they will arrange for training resources on their own such as taking paid online courses outside of work.

On that note, a huge number of employees (90%) "desire" active planning and support from their company to effectively upskill them, and "wish" their company could provide more support to help with their skills upgrading. In fact, more than one third of employees are "concerned" about the lack of support. It is also noteworthy that approximately three in 10 cited the "lack of initiative" from their company as an obstacle they face when upskilling.

Why are employees open to job opportunities?

There are five reasons, according to report findings, with the top two being "better pay" (61%) and "better career progression opportunities" (45%). The remaining three reasons are: looking to explore new roles (44%); looking to explore a new industry (35%), and lack of growth in current job (32%). What is interesting is, more than six in 10 (63%) employees are "confident" about their ability to find a job that matches their needs - 16% higher than the previous year (2020).

With that being the case, 60% of employees are still "satisfied with (their) current role", and 33% are "satisfied with (their) current pay". More than two in 10 (24%) also reported that their "current company provides job security".

In terms of sectoral outlook, employees in trade & connectivity (70%) are the most likely to feel confident about their ability to land a job, followed by those in essential domestic services (68%). However, employees working in the built environment industry are the least optimistic about their ability to secure new employment opportunities, where only 54% say so.

Why do employees want to upskill?

In essence, employees are most concerned with job displacement by technology. Nearly four in five stated that COVID-19 has brought about digital transformation (to an extent) in their workplace. Putting this into sectoral perspective, employees working in built environment (91%), for instance, are most likely to feel concerned about the impact of digitalisation. Meanwhile, those working in manufacturing (76%) are the least concerned.

However, employees from essential domestic services (98%) are the ones who feel the strongest need to upskill in order to stay relevant in their current job. Interestingly, employees from built environment (91%) are the least likely to
say so. This, compared to 2020's findings, is a deep contrast, as back then employees from built environment (96%) felt the strongest need to upskill to remain relevant.

Other than to avoid consequences such as job displacements, irrelevancy, and instability, employees reportedly find upskilling necessary for "better career progression opportunities" (66%); "better pay" (58%), and "better match with skillsets" (50%). Others cited reasons like "looking to explore new roles" (46%), and "fear of being laid off" (37%).

What skills are important to employees?

In terms of critical core skills, close to six in 10 (58%) share that communication is an important one to possess. This is followed by problem solving (54%), decision making (52%), and adaptability (48%). Whereas in terms of technology skills, half of employees (50%) believe that data analysis is important to have. This is then followed by project management (46%), cybersecurity (45%), and data-driven decision making (40%).

Be that as it may, more than three in 10 (33%) shared that digital fluency is the top critical core skill they lack, and more than four in 10 (45%) revealed that cybersecurity is the top technology skill they lack.

Where to go from here? The employee upskilling wishlist

Employees mostly need clarity and guidance from their employers for skills development. It was reported that employees are generally "satisfied" with skills training programmes offered by their company – however, a majority of employees are only "somewhat satisfied".

With that context, employees report that their company should focus on:

  • Reskilling and upskilling employees with relevant skills (36%), and
  • Finding new learning pathways to train employees with skills (34%).

More than three in 10 (34%) are, in fact, concerned about the "lack of support from their company in skills training" amidst ongoing digital transformation.

On that note, employees surveyed shared the top eight training opportunities that they desire which employers can look at for upskilling purposes, and they are as follows:

  1. Assign specific courses for employees to attend (e.g., face-to-face/virtual classes),
  2. On-the-job training,
  3. Provide employees with a budget and they can pick skills to train.
  4. Enrol employees in external programmes offered by training providers,
  5. Job shadowing opportunities (i.e., learn from other employees with different job scopes),
  6. Obtain certifications via massive open online courses (e.g., Coursera),
  7. Offer short, bite-sized courses (e.g., mobile or micro-learning),
  8. Mentoring programmes (i.e., being paired with a senior employee).

ALSO READ: Sectors in Singapore that are hiring, and the skills they are looking for


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