Learning & Development Asia 2024
Skills demand for the future economy: What skills should you develop in 2023?

Skills demand for the future economy: What skills should you develop in 2023?


In the care-driven economy, preventive care, workplace learning, transformative human resource, learning and development practices, as well as mental wellbeing are highlighted.

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has published its second edition of the Skills Demand for the Future Economy Report on 22 November 2022. 

Similar to the inaugural (2021) report, this second edition continues to spotlight three important growth areas as they heavily influence the emergence of new skills demand across many industry sectors - the digital economy, the green economy, and the care economy. These are skills with high demand growth, and are also highly transferable across different jobs and industries.

SSG also included an analysis of skills needs associated with Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies and processes, the different career paths and upskilling options available for mid-career workers, and findings on the use and development of critical core skills in the Singapore workforce.

Insights were derived using machine learning techniques and market analysis, twinned with validation by sector agencies, industry partners, and academia.

First, a new dimension on skills demand growth has been added alongside skills transferability. This captures the relative scale of the increase in demand for that skill, while transferability captures the scope of the skill’s applicability across different job roles, making it a two-dimensional analysis.

SSG has grouped the priority skills into 18 emerging domains.

In the green economy, many existing jobs will require green skills as companies across sectors adopt more environmentally sustainable practices and develop sustainability targets for compliance and reporting. While green infrastructure and mobility, and energy, resource circularity, and decarbonisation are key skills areas that see very high demand growth, they are dwarfed by skills demand growth in the domain of sustainable finance. On the other hand, skills in the environmental and sustainability management domain enjoy high transferability.

Underpinning the green economy is a need for strong financial infrastructure to channel public and private sector investments into various green or greening initiatives. The sustainable finance domain focuses on skills that are important in strengthening the financial ecosystem and the provision of sustainable finance, especially in relation to regulations, standards setting (including taxonomy of sustainable activities), financial instruments for green investments (including green bonds and loans), and the operationalisation of carbon markets.

The environmental and sustainability management domain establishes the baseline knowledge and skills in different aspects of environment and sustainability management that are applicable across all industry sectors and workforce. It relates to the establishment of governance and adherence to environmental and sustainability compliance requirements, sustainability policies, and systems and processes to measure, report, verify and manage environment and sustainability initiatives, programmes and climate mitigation efforts.

The energy, resource circularity and decarbonisation domain relates to skills associated with the management and maximising of resources through measures to close the resource loop, the sustainable use of energy, and the mitigation of global warming impact through the reduction or elimination of greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, digital economy jobs and skills continue to see high demand. In particular, software development skills see the highest demand growth and high transferability. Cloud, systems, and infrastructure is close behind in terms of demand growth. At the same time, e-commerce and digital marketing, artificial Intelligence (AI), data and analytics register high transferability in the skills they cover.

The software development domain focuses on technical skills such as software application interface development and customer experience. It supports the development of digital products and applications for organisations to interface with both consumers and internal staff.

Meanwhile, the AI, data and analytics domain supports how data-related skills are being used in tech-lite areas (e.g. business data analysis and data visualisation) and tech-heavy areas (e.g. AI application and data engineering). As businesses deal with more data and use them more intensively, technical expertise needs to grow to effectively manage data as a resource.

The cloud, systems and infrastructure domain is related to the deployment and administration of cloud infrastructure, database, and 5G networks. These skills drive the maintenance, implementation, and continuous improvement of the underlying systems and infrastructure that businesses rely on to enhance their digital functions and services.

The e-commerce and digital marketing domain includes skills related to market research, consumer behaviour insights, product sales and market management, and digital marketing communications.

For the care economy, preventive care, workplace learning, transformative human resource, learning and development practices, as well as the importance placed on mental wellbeing are noted to drive changes to jobs and skills. Collaboration with stakeholders is a key skills area that sees very high demand growth, while person-centred care, and teaching and learning have the highest transferability in skills. Demand for health and wellness has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic and are needed by job roles beyond care provision to preventive personal care.

Person-centred skills support effective delivery of personalised care to an individual. These skills support tasks in operational management, client data management, and service excellence in interaction.

Skills in the collaboration with stakeholders domain strengthen care professionals’ partnership abilities to deliver care services that benefit clients, as well as their families and caregivers. Strong collaboration across stakeholder groups remains a key enabler in delivering quality care. These stakeholder groups include professionals across multiple disciplines, community partners, and social service agencies.

Skills in the teaching and learning domain seek to maximise individuals’ performance and realise their potential. More organisations are now treating employee learning as a strategic priority, to prepare their employees for changing business needs and to promote their career growth. Learning specialists and business unit managers need skills to design and implement workplace learning modes and to effectively engage employees through career conversations.

Lastly, skills in the health and wellness domain promote and develop the individual’s overall health and wellbeing. Along with more healthcare, there will also be a greater societal need in skills related to preventive care, wellness and fitness promotion, mental resilience, and self-care. 

Jobs and skills in Industry 4.0 implementation

SSG has mapped out 60 priority skills with high demand growth and high transferability, associated with I4.0, as more companies in the manufacturing and related sectors are changing their business models and operations in line with the transformation. Notably, there is a fair degree of overlap with priority skills associated with digital and green economies, as digitalisation and sustainability are key themes for I4.0. 

Along with I4.0 implementation, sustainable manufacturing and circular economy skills are also prioritised as consumers gravitate towards more sustainable products and manufacturers respond by finding ways to bring resources back into the economy to be used more efficiently and sustainably. The end-to-end manufacturing process, enabled by I4.0, is increasingly digitalised, connected, and sustainable.

The report also noted that to implement I4.0, companies may need to invest in a bundle of I4.0, digital, and green skills to support in-demand roles across the manufacturing value chain. 

As the end-to-end manufacturing process becomes more digitalised, connected, efficient, and sustainable, there is a mix of I4.0, digital, and green skills that are fast-growing and highly transferable across job roles. For instance, besides I4.0 skills such as quality assurance, mechanical engineering management, and 3D modelling, digital skills such as big data analytics, data engineering, and data protection management are highly transferable and required by more than 600 job roles noted.

All images/ Shutterstock

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