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Singapore companies lagging in upskilling offerings; white-collar staff say they lack expertise to do job well: reports

SINGAPORE employees are aware they need to upskill but believe their companies are not providing enough learning and development (L&D) opportunities, according to a survey by professional network LinkedIn.

The survey found that two in three Singapore professionals feel daunted by the pace of change in their industries. But only 17 per cent are very satisfied with their company’s L&D offerings and more than two in five have left a firm that didn’t deliver on this front.

Survey respondents said time (57 per cent) is the most significant barrier to L&D activities at work. Although cost, accessibility, access to resources and general level of interest in the content also play a role.

The LinkedIn's Future of Skills 2019 Report said both employees (62 per cent) and L&D professionals (54 per cent) in Singapore see soft skills as important in determining career progression - particularly so in a technology dominated world where ‘unique human talent’ such as creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving will play an even more vital role.

Organisations’ concerns around the talent crunch is largely driven by the lack of available skills and skills instability, with two in five L&D professionals feeling very confident that their organisations are able to help employees prepare for the future of work, said LinkedIn.

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The top three rising skills on LinkedIn are blockchain, workflow automation and human-centred design, and they feature more prominently in Singapore than in other Asia-Pacific countries. Rising skills are those which saw exponential month-on-month growth in listings by members over the five years from January 2014 to December 2018.

"These skills may be nascent now but will potentially see wide-scale adoption in the future," said the report.

Organisations are also competing for those equipped with these skills, with such candidates receiving three times as many private LinkedIn messages from recruiters as the average user in the region, said the report.

Feon Ang, vice president for talent and learning solutions, Asia Pacific, LinkedIn, said organisations need to embrace a culture of learning to remain resilient amidst a rapidly changing workforce.

"At the same time, employees need to be empowered and motivated to learn on their own terms, given difficulties in finding time and accessing opportunities," added Ms Ang.

Concurring with LinkedIn's report, separate research commissioned by Singapore-based networking and mentorship startup Tigerhall found that 74 per cent of white-collar workers feel they lack the expertise needed to do their job well.

Out of those that felt ill-equipped, 78 per cent held university degree level education and 69 per cent had a Masters degree, raising serious questions about the content and value university degrees, Masters and adult courses are providing, said Tigerhall.

As to what was lacking, survey respondents were split equally between soft skills such as managing people, negotiation or presenting and job role specific skills such as digital marketing, financial modeling, and agile methodologies.

As a result of their lacking skills and knowledge, 56 per cent said they have made mistakes at work and are not performing at the required level. 43 per cent feel unhappy at work and a further 25 per cent want to leave their current job.

"It’s not just the content which is out of touch in most existing education settings but where the knowledge is transferred from. You have to ask yourself, 'Should I be learning from someone who hasn’t ever achieved what I want to achieve, someone who has been out of the industry for years, or do I want to learn from professionals who are at the top of their game in the corporate world with a proven track record of success?'" said Tigerhall CEO Nellie Wartoft.

LinkedIn's report surveyed 4,136 employees and 844 L&D professionals across Australia, India, Japan and Singapore, and identifies the top 10 rising skills of LinkedIn members in the region over the last five years by looking at the skills listed by members with the highest month-on-month growth.

It also conducted a deep dive into employees’ readiness to tackle the future workforce and how L&D professionals are responding to the skills transformation.

Tigerhall's research was commissioned by the company and conducted by an independent third party, surveying 1000 white-collar workers based in Singapore during May 2019.

The research criteria was white-collar workers aged between 21 to 60 years old. Demographic quotas were set by age and gender to represent the Singapore population.

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