Workers in Singapore–even those holding higher educational degrees–are having a hard time achieving job satisfaction as the result of a job well done due to lack of on-the-job training and support. With several surveys conducted this year confirming this sentiment, more than half of the respondents in one survey claim that the lack of relevant education has caused under performance and mistakes at work.

Lack of satisfaction

According to a survey published by Singapore-based networking app, Tigerhall on June 18th, of 750 workers, three out of four respondents feel that they lack the necessary skills to meet current and future job requirements. Of these respondents, 43% are so dissatisfied with their current competencies and the perceived educational gap, that they are considering leaving their job as a result.

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Nearly all of the employees surveyed say that their workplace training did not prepare them with the skills required to excel at work. Tigerhall CEO, Nellie Wartoft, cites that the problem starts in the education system, because the curriculum does not keep up to date with the rapid changes in the industry. In effect, graduates, and particularly millennials, feel they are out of touch with reality with nearly 80% of 21- to 29-year-olds and 77% of respondents aged 30 to 44 saying they are not given opportunities in their current workplaces to enhance their competencies and advance through the ranks.

Regional director of Asia-Pacific at Skillsoft, Rosie Cairnes says:

We are quite shocked by the level of concern and unpreparedness among employees. 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. 

The Business Times, July 10, 2019.

These results are also confirmed by a survey conducted by the professional network, LinkedIn, where only 17% of the respondents are satisfied with their company’s training programmes, and the overwhelming majority indicated that the learning and development departments are not offering training to match the pace of change in their industries. 

LinkedIn’s survey reports that workers face obstacles to training, such as costs, accessibility, and access to resources. According to 57% of those queried, time is the most significant barrier to accessing their company’s development programs.

Asia Pacific competency

A more recent survey, Mind the Gap: Upskilling Asia Pacific employees for the digital workplace, carried out by the corporate learning provider Skillsoft, revealed that even though many workers would be keen to learn new skills to meet current and future job requirements, they lack opportunities to do so. Participants point out, not only are job-specific technical skills, such as online marketing, financial modelling, and agile software development, missing from their skill set, but 50% said they also lacked key soft skills, like negotiating, managing people, and presentation skills.

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When asked if they would be confident in the jobs without learning new competencies, 85% said, unequivocally, no. Of those same workers, 57% said that they are unable to meet the needs of their current work, and 87% agreed that without proper training, the future of their work situation is at stake. A full nine out of 10 respondents are distressed by the fact that their companies have not established proper learning and development programmes needed to close the educational gap.

New is not necessarily better

Skillsoft’s Mind the Gap Survey also suggests that Singapore companies would much rather seek out external professionals rather than train their current workforce with 45% of those surveyed reporting that new roles in their organisation are filled with outside sources.

While it may seem like a logical conclusion to look beyond your office walls when you need new talent to fill new roles with greater, more specialised demands, it doesn’t often make much sense.

One of the most valuable assets of any company is the human resource. It takes time to nurture and train people before they are fully contributing to the operation of an organisation–in some estimates, up to 2 years. Employee turnover is costly. An employee benefits provider, PeopleKeep, reports that it takes nearly 6 to 9 months “salary” to find, hire and train a new employee. And then there’s no guarantee that it will be a good fit or that they will stay.

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Increased employee engagement, improved productivity, and worker enthusiasm are all excellent reasons to train and hire from within. According to The Bridge, 86% of millennials would stay at their current job if they were offered learning and development opportunities. And retaining employees has other benefits too. A business can gain a competitive advantage if they can fill new positions immediately from within their current staff as it makes for a more agile company that can respond faster to rapidly changing needs.

Education: the key?

The only group that felt well-equipped and confident about their skills were PhD holders. According to Tigerhall, about 70% are happy with their current skill set. Although, this confidence is not represented in Bachelor degree holders with just 20% contentment level, and only 30% among those who hold Master’s degrees, Diplomas, and ‘O’ Level certificate holders. These numbers indicate that education and preparation are key to maintaining a stable of happy and productive workers.

Overall, the status quo is alarming. Singaporean workers feel they cannot meet future job requirements, or remain employable. These results should be seen as a wake up call to Singaporean companies. Setting up accessible learning and development programmes is a long-term investment that pays off and should be considered a necessity to remain competitive–not only in the tech industry sector but throughout all industries.

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