In 2018, 65% of large companies and 60% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore shared a consistently top challenge as in 2017 - the hiring of people with the right skills and attitude. Further, rising labour cost continues to be an issue for companies (50%).
These were some of the key findings of the Singapore Business Federation's latest National Business Survey 2018/2019.
According to the survey, which drew responses from more than 700 companies across major industries, the persistent manpower issues were a sign of business transformation. In fact, businesses ranked the following as key concerns in 2018, in the push for innovation:
- The availability of suitable manpower with technological expertise as a main concern (41%).
- The retraining of workers to develop their digital capabilities (29%).
To address these challenges, 36% of businesses are looking to the various Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) for solutions to improve their manpower needs and talent pipeline. At the same time, businesses view the development of digital capabilities (39%) as a priority for the year ahead.
Further, despite ongoing economic uncertainties, businesses are pursuing innovation to keep up with a fast-evolving economy:
- Nearly two in three large companies (64%) and 55% of SMEs have implemented business innovation.
- Innovation is seen as crucial across all aspects of business, including customer experience (88%), operational processes (88%), business models (87%), and new products or services (85%).
Top on the wish list for Budget 2019
With less than a month to go for the 18 February (Monday) reading of Budget 2019, companies in Singapore are putting forth what they hope to see in support of their visions. As revealed in the survey, these are the three things businesses want from Budget 2019:
#1 Support for access to new and critical technology
Both large companies (58%) and SMEs (59%) have ranked the cost of purchasing and implementing technology as their top challenge to innovation in 2018. Thus, a top priority would be the Government's support for accessing new and critical technology (63%).
This is a top need for both large companies (56%) and SMEs (64%).
#2 Support for digitalisation
In particular, large companies (64%) have also ranked the support for digital adoption and transformation high on their wish list, as they believe it will make the biggest difference to their business.
#3 Favourable financing mechanisms
On the other hand, SMEs believe they will benefit most from more favourable financing mechanisms (71%). For instance, lower interest rates and fees.
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