More Singaporeans see importance of digital, STEM skills at work: Survey

Kok Xinghui

SINGAPORE (Aug 13): If Singaporeans could turn back time and be 18 years old again, a whopping 83% would focus on a field of study within the digital or online realm, according to a survey by HR services firm Randstad Singapore.

In addition, three-quarters of those surveyed say they would also have studied something in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The same percentage of respondents say they believe more students should focus on a career in STEM.

These sentiments were highest in China, where 91% of those surveyed would go into STEM if they were 18 again, and 95% would focus on digital/online skills.

More than half of employees in Singapore felt that their companies face an increasing for STEM profiles. Yet, more than two-thirds think their companies are having trouble finding people with the right STEM skills today, and that it will only get harder in the future.

While 79% felt equipped to deal with digitisation within their jobs, 83% thought their companies could do more to develop employees’ digital skills.

Interestingly, some 63% of Singapore respondents whose companies do not provide training say they have taken to investing in themselves by learning about artificial intelligence such as machine learning.

“Many companies in Singapore are on a digital transformation journey. Not only are firms investing in new technology, they are also hiring professionals to develop and market innovative products and solutions to stay competitive. As a result, employees expect their employers to invest in their professional development and equip them with the skills required for the future of work,” says Jaya Dass, managing director ay Randstad Singapore and Malaysia.

Dass stresses that this goes beyond just attending training courses, but also having honest discussions on how skills requirements and job scopes will change in the future, as well as the actionable steps companies expect their employees to take to remain employable.

“In a candidate-short and mature market like Singapore where the unemployment rate remains below 5%, it can be very challenging for employers to identify and secure highly-skilled candidates,” says Dass. “Even with a slowing economy, we still see active demand for candidates who are equipped with the right skills. Therefore, it is critical for job seekers to know which skills they would need to acquire to stay relevant, and upskill themselves through either subsidised courses or internal training programmes to remain attractive to hiring employers.”

The 2Q19 Randstad Workmonitor study was conducted between April 23 and May 9 this year. The online survey polled at least 400 employees aged 18 to 65 who work a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job.