Survey: Over nine in 10 Singapore employers have trouble hiring, training staff for new technologies

Amid the push to make Singapore a Smart Nation, the survey found that employers here find it significantly more challenging to hire and train staff to implement new technologies than their global peers. — TODAY pic
Amid the push to make Singapore a Smart Nation, the survey found that employers here find it significantly more challenging to hire and train staff to implement new technologies than their global peers. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 13 — As the government pushes for digital transformation to take root in companies, some obstacles lie in the way, with more than nine in 10 Singaporean employers saying they face challenges in training and hiring staff to implement new technologies.

That is higher than both the global and Asia-Pacific averages, according to a survey by global recruitment and job agency Robert Half released yesterday.

In a statement, Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, the managing director of Robert Half Singapore, said that while the rate of Singapore’s digital transformation initiatives is faster than that of its global peers and would be of benefit in the long run, the survey suggests that those initiatives might have “outpaced the workforce’s ability to adapt to the new technologies”.

And this, he added, places additional pressure on individual organisations to bridge the skills gap in the short term.

“While technology is the driver behind business transformation, it is human capital that will determine its success, highlighting the need for Singaporean business leaders to prioritise change management, upskilling and reskilling their existing workforce, and recruiting the right talent to adapt to new technology,” said Imbert-Bouchard.

Key findings from survey

A total of 6,075 employers from 13 markets including Australia, France and Germany took part in the survey, which is conducted annually, with the latest one done in January this year. Singapore and Hong Kong were the only Asian economies to participate.

What the survey found:

93 per cent of Singaporean employers say it will be challenging to train staff on new technology — above the Asia-Pacific (88 per cent) and global (78 per cent) averages

92 per cent find it difficult to recruit talent with appropriate IT skills — the highest rate globally and well above the Asia-Pacific average of 80 per cent

73 per cent have increased staff training budgets — above the 66 per cent recorded across the Asia-Pacific and 63 per cent globally

‘Challenging’ to adopt new technologies

The United Arab Emirates topped the list, when it comes to employers finding it difficult to train employees to adapt to new technologies. Singapore came in second place.

According to the study, Singaporean employers see three key barriers to adapting their team to new technologies:

  • Difficulty in integrating with current systems and processes
  • A concern the effort or cost of implementing new technologies outweighs the benefits
  • A belief that the technologies are unproven

Nevertheless, more than seven in 10, or 73 per cent, of local companies have increased their staff training budgets to ensure employees learn about new technologies. This is higher than the global average of 64 per cent and the 65 per cent figure in the Asia-Pacific.

Training programmes include putting employees through seminars and courses, mentoring and online courses.

Equally hard to hire skilled professionals

Local firms also find it equally hard to hire professionals who are skilled in the new technologies that the companies want to adopt, with more than nine in 10, or 92 per cent, of Singaporean employers reporting this problem.

This is the highest rate globally and well above the Asia-Pacific average of 80 per cent and global average of 71 per cent.

To build an “agile workforce” that is responsive in adapting to new technologies, most employers surveyed said there is a need for a hybrid employment model. This means having a mix of permanent employees alongside interim and contract professionals who provide support and specialised skills on an as-needed basis. — TODAY

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