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Singapore firms not doing enough to upskill workers: Skillsoft poll

MANY Singapore workers are keen to learn new skills to remain employable, but say they lack opportunities to do so within their companies, according to survey results published on Tuesday by global corporate learning provider Skillsoft.

Organisations are also seen to be more interested in hiring external talent to fill new roles, rather than upskilling current employees to take up the positions.

The survey of 750 workers across Singapore, conducted by technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne, found that most employees feel "under-skilled" and worried that their employers are not supporting them enough to meet future job requirements.

This is despite the fact that respondents reported receiving learning, development and training from their organisations for new skills twice on average in 2018.

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The findings echo the results of other surveys by LinkedIn and Tigerhall published in June, which also found that employees feel ill-equipped to do their jobs well, and many are dissatisfied with their companies' learning and development opportunities.

About 85 per cent of respondents to the Skillsoft survey said they would need to learn a new skill in 2019 to remain confident in their current roles, while more than half (57 per cent) said that their current teams are already under-skilled to meet the needs of their business.

More than eight in 10 (86 per cent) agreed that the future of work is nothing without training, learning and development, and nine in 10 expressed concern that they are not receiving enough of such preparation from their organisations to remain employable and skilled in the future.

"We are quite shocked by the level of concern and unpreparedness among employees," said Rosie Cairnes, regional director of Asia-Pacific at Skillsoft, which published the survey results in a report titled Mind the Gap: Upskilling Asia Pacific employees for the digital workplace.

"Training, learning and development are critical to technology-enabled workplaces, yet many organisations are failing to deliver enough. This is not just a 'future' problem, it is happening now."

About 92 per cent of employees believe that their organisations prefer to consider external employees for new roles, because they have not implemented the appropriate learning and development programmes to reskill or upskill internal employees. About 45 per cent said that roles in their organisations are filled with external candidates all or most of the time.

Ms Cairnes noted that hiring is far more costly than training, and there is already a skills deficit in the jobs market. In addition, failing to invest in employee development has a negative impact on job satisfaction, morale and retention.

This means that organisations are missing out on the positive financial impact and increased performance that could come from upskilling current employees to take up new roles, she said.

"This report should act as a wake-up call for businesses. They need to invest now in learning and development to ensure they are able to rapidly allocate their talent to meet their business requirements and enhance the employment experience of their people."

For this survey, employees who use a computer or smart device for work were interviewed online in February and March 2019, after passing a multi-level screening process. They came from organisations in a range of sectors and functions, with a staff strength of more than 250.