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Upskilling is now a must-do

This article is more than 12 months old

From 'lunch-and-learn' training sessions to SkillsFuture, there is an array of initiatives to help workers stay relevant

The nature of employment in Singapore is shifting.

Digital innovations are taking effect in every industry and company as well as redefining the role of nearly every employee.

Automation continues to impact the workplace, taking over many labour-intensive functions and jobs.

At the same time, it is creating new roles that require additional technical skills and critical thinking, adding value to decision-making to successfully navigate an increasingly digitised workplace.

Those who could do their jobs without strong IT-based skills a couple of years ago must now use an array of technology tools in their daily tasks.

Finding and developing people with digital business skills should be a priority for every organisation.

Yet, research independently commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half shows 92 per cent of Singaporean chief information officers (CIOs) say it is more challenging to find qualified IT professionals compared to five years ago, highlighting the potential severity of this talent gap.

With Singapore's SkillsFuture movement, the focus has shifted within Singapore's employment market towards continual learning and upskilling.

Upskilling is more than just a buzzword. It comes at a time when equipping employees with new skills is no longer just a nice-to-have, but a must-do.

Any time organisations invest in employees by providing or supporting upskilling opportunities, they feel more valued, and in turn, become more loyal to the company.

And while upskilling programmes necessitate investment, they also provide strong returns in the form of addressing crucial skills gaps in a company by training employees.

In addition, high staff turnover costs can be avoided by ensuring workers stay engaged with opportunities to grow, instead of seeking alternatives elsewhere, taking their knowledge and experience with them.

We have seen the success of the following initiatives in effectively engaging employees and imparting the needed skills:

  • 'Lunch-and-learn' training sessions

These sessions are attractive for workers who do not have time to fit in training in the middle of a workday. Lunch can be provided or attendees can take their own to the meetings.

External experts can be engaged to lead the sessions or alternatively an employee with specialist expertise in the subject can facilitate the session.

Such sessions provide targeted and concise training that employees can directly apply to their work for greater effectiveness.

  • Internal training

It offers employees a chance to use a range of tools, resources, existing staff and methods to better equip themselves with new skill sets and perform their duties effectively.

  • Mentoring and shadowing

With several subject-matter experts within an organisation, having a well-developed mentoring and shadowing programme in place can be an important avenue to share knowledge with the broader team so that the staff can grow, gain valuable real-world experience and hone their leadership skills.

  • SkillsFuture

This is a great government initiative helping the workforce equip themselves with the skills they need to excel in today's competitive working environment.

This is especially true for those in the IT industry, enabling CIOs to keep their organisations competitive by training their staff with the most up-to-date technological skills sets.

Organisations can examine more closely how they can encourage employees to use SkillsFuture credits, perhaps by recommending courses relevant to their job scope or helping to facilitate flexible working arrangements when needed for employees to attend courses.

Creating upskilling opportunities at your company is not only smart, but it is also critical to the health and growth of the organisation.

Forward-thinking companies that consider what they want their employees to learn and what training and development methods are best for their goals reap the benefits with workers who are better at their jobs, more motivated and more likely to remain with the company.

The writer is managing director, Robert Half Singapore, a recruitment agency.

BUSINESS & FINANCE