… you will be highly sought-after for your sales, business operations or IT/Digital acumen while others rush to reskill/retrain.

The adoption of digital technologies and transformation will continue to accelerate across industries, prompting employers to actively re-assess the talent pool they need in order to navigate the new economy, according to one expert in Singapore.

Eugene Wong, the chairman of the country’s National Trade Union Congress Learning Hub, used a recent workforce study to conclude: “Where new information and technologies are being fielded at an exponential rate, employers must lead their companies in upskilling or reskilling to learn in-demand competencies that help companies navigate a COVID-19 economy. It is heartening that more employers now see the value in upskilling and reskilling their employees, and many are also ramping up their efforts to attract our local talent pool. This signifies a bright spot for individuals who are reassessing their career paths, and they can leverage upskilling and reskilling resources to capture opportunities in these areas.”

Wong was referring to a small survey his agency conducted in Oct 2020 to gather the perspectives of 367 business leaders (senior managers or directors and above) and 567 full-time employees working in Singapore, to uncover the dynamics of training and employment opportunities across six major industry clusters in the country.

Balancing pessimism with action

Despite 61% of Singapore employers expressing a pessimistic outlook towards the current job market, 56% indicated that they had been hiring or intending to hire new talent to meet their current business goals.

In particular, the top three functions employers have been hiring (or intending to hire) for were IT & Digital (45%), Business Operations (39%) and Sales (29%).

When asked about their recruitment endeavors, 72% of respondents said that it had been challenging to fill roles due to a shortage of talent with the required skill set. This was most apparent in those in the built environment (77%), manufacturing (76%) and essential domestic services (75%) industry clusters in the island state.

In addition, to plug skills gaps, employers cited they had been upskilling employees with complementary skill sets (55%), reskilling employees (40%) to take on newly-created roles, and proactively attracting local talents (40%) to join their workforce.

Which functions did employees want to pivot to, in order to secure a stable job and career? The respondents indicated these as the top three: Leadership & Management (39%), Business Operations (32%) and Administrative (30%).

Finally, the study data showed that 66% of employees polled had felt the need to upgrade their skills to move to another industry that may be more resilient. Some 31% of them were open to moving into the healthcare industry, while 23% were open to moving to biopharmaceuticals manufacturing and 21% were open to moving to infocomm technology. Among this group of respondents, employees from the built environment and trade & connectivity industry clusters felt the strongest need to move to another industry.