New Digital Skills Index from Salesforce Reveals 71% of Singapore Workers Feel Unequipped for the Future of Work

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 28 January 2022

  • Seven in ten respondents in Singapore do not feel ready to operate in a digital-first world, with just 29% actively involved in digital skills training
  • Gap emerging between everyday digital skills and those needed for work, especially among younger workers
  • Collaboration technologies, digital administrative and cybersecurity skills viewed as the most important workplace digital skills for Singapore workers over the next five years
  • To encourage more in Singapore to kickstart their digital skills learning, Salesforce launches new Singapore-themed, free learning courses

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today published its Global Digital Skills Index, revealing a growing global digital skills crisis and the urgent need for action. The Index is based on over 23,500 workers in 19 countries reporting their readiness to acquire the digital skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years.

In Singapore, nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) don’t feel ‘very equipped’ to learn the digital skills needed by businesses now, and 71% don’t feel ‘very equipped’ for the future. Despite that, only 29% are ‘very actively’ involved in digital skills learning and training programmes today.

“The digital skills gap cannot wait. Our research shows that we still have work to do in equipping Singaporeans for the future of work, which will be pivotal to the recovery, resilience and growth of our economy,” said Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce ASEAN. “Businesses play a critical role in collaborating with other organisations in the ecosystem, to ensure the right kinds of training and recruitment opportunities scale up to match digital demand and reach all aspects of society equally.”

The global digital skills gap

This gap is a concern – but it also presents an opportunity. With companies around the world rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared. The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling, is currently only 33 out of 100, highlighting an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap.

While the research highlights that certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, it is clear that all nations still have a lot of work to do. Bridging the digital divide is imperative to maintaining and improving standards of living across the globe. Only 17% of all respondents globally consider themselves ‘advanced’ in workplace digital skills while nearly half (49%) still rate themselves as ‘beginner’.

Emerging nations are most confident about digital readiness

Respondents in emerging nations India, Mexico, Brazil, and Thailand are more confident than those in developed nations about their digital future. India has the Index’s highest digital readiness score (63 out of 100), where 76% of respondents feel very prepared for a digital skills-led workplace today and 72% are ‘very actively’ learning new digital skills.

According to the Index, Singapore ranks seventh with a score of 35 out of 100.

RAND Europe’s recent The Global Digital Skills Gap report indicates that certain countries will be more impacted by the digital skills gap than others, depending on their economic structure, industries and labor distribution. Concerns of higher risk may be driving a bigger, faster commitment to digital education — India’s digital skills gap has the greatest GDP growth risk at an average of 2.3% every year, followed by Mexico at 1.8% GDP. The United Kingdom and Australia, on the other hand, sit at just 0.5%.  

Everyday digital skills don’t always translate to the workplace

Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation don’t necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by businesses to drive recovery, resilience and growth.

In Singapore, most Gen Z and millennial respondents (84%) say they have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills — supporting the stereotype of digital mastery among the younger generation — but only 40% feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed now.

While the vast majority of respondents in North America (83%), Europe (82%), and Asia-Pacific (70%) have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills, only a third in each (31%, 24%, and 34%, respectively) feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed over the next five years.

The most important digital skills needed by businesses today

According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology like Slack are viewed by Singapore respondents as the most important skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years. This is followed by digital administrative and encryption and cybersecurity skills. 

Yet, less than a third of respondents in Singapore rate themselves ‘advanced’ in these skills:

  • 30% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in collaboration technology skills;
  • 26% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in digital administrative skills;
  • 21% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in encryption and cybersecurity skills. 

Reskilling the workforce

Globally, over half of all Index respondents (51%) want to learn new skills to help them grow in their current careers. This compares with 46% in Singapore. By harnessing the potential of existing workforces, businesses can speed progress towards closing skills gaps.

The Index also reveals that younger respondents in Singapore have greater confidence and ambition to learn new skills — 36% of Gen Z and millennial respondents are ‘very actively’ learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 19% of respondents aged 50 and above. Businesses have a major opportunity to nurture talent by providing tailored, ‘always on’ training that will help drive growth and innovation, increase equity and engagement and create strong leaders for the future.

Business-led collaboration is essential

Now, more than ever, businesses have a responsibility to create close collaboration with governments, partners and communities to tackle the widening skills crisis. Salesforce’s own commitment includes equitable access to digital skills through its free online learning platform Trailhead, which has helped more than 3.7 million people learn new skills for the future of work, including 85,000 in ASEAN, and its Trailblazer Community, which empowers people to learn alongside Salesforce peers and experts. 

As part of its continued efforts to encourage Singaporeans to kickstart their digital skills learning, Salesforce has announced the launch of Singapore Trailmixes — six unique Singapore-themed digital learning paths on Trailhead. They include the Merlion Trailmix, which covers digital marketing, and the Mandai Trailmix, which is focused on data analytics.

Salesforce has also created partnerships with leading education providers and delivered apprenticeship, skilling, grants and philanthropic programs internationally. In ASEAN, Salesforce works with partners like SkillsFuture in Singapore and Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) in Thailand to help workers reskill and upskill. 

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