Reskilling, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit
Technology today has become a divisive topic in the eyes of many, viewed with both hope and trepidation.
On the one hand, it has tremendous potential to address our most pressing societal challenges and energise our economy. On the other, it has the ability to bring about massive disruption to future jobs. This is expected as the types of skills needed in the labour market is evolving rapidly thanks to technological advancements, and many of the skills that our workforce currently value may be rendered obsolete.
Now is a pertinent time for us to examine the implications that technology has on our workers, and how enterprises can help prepare the workforce for the digital future.
Major upheavals in Singapore’s job landscape in the near future
As an aspiring smart nation and an established digital hub in the Asia Pacific, technology and innovations have always been, and will always be, a vital part of Singapore’s growth strategy and nation-building roadmap.
However, as organisations continue to adopt and develop new technologies, the skills that workers in Singapore need to stay relevant and thrive are also rapidly transforming. According to the CA Technologies Asia-Pacific and Japan Digital Transformation Impact and Readiness Study, close to seven in ten business and IT leaders in Singapore cited that their jobs or roles have been changed due to digital disruption today. This figure will rise rapidly in the near future, with 80% of them believing that their jobs will be disrupted in five years’ time.
Across many industries today, the most in-demand occupations - such as data scientist - did not exist ten or even five years ago. The emergence of these new roles, coupled with the surge in demand for technology-related experts – such as cybersecurity specialists and software developers – have resulted in a technology manpower shortage that can potentially derail our nation’s digital ambitions. Singapore, by the end of this decade, will need an additional 42,000 workers in the ICT sector. This talent gap is expected to exacerbate as technology developments continue to accelerate.
All these trends point towards a common eventuality - how organisations operate, how people find employment and the skills that employees need to stay relevant are dramatically changing. And, these changes will accelerate over the next few years.
Reskilling and entrepreneurial spirit need to be at the heart of our workforce
In order for Singapore to fulfil its digital ambitions, it is imperative to ensure that our nation’s workforce is digitally skilled to take on the new jobs of the future and new models of economic production. And, one of the key steps to accomplishing this is for the private sector to take the lead in reskilling the workforce.
Reskilling strategies will be critical for organisations to address the technology manpower crunch they are facing now. After all, 76% of business and IT leaders in Singapore have indicated that their organisations have been digitally disrupted, and technology-related functions will play a critical part in facilitating the digital transformation of enterprises - enabling them to effectively and securely leverage technologies to raise productivity as well as create new digital services and products.
While reskilling provides employees with the foundational expertise they need to stay relevant in the digital economy, it is critical thinking and innovation that will enable them to thrive. And, for enterprises, innovation and invention will be their key to unlock new revenue streams and business models.
In order to achieve that, companies will first need to foster an innovation-conducive workplace and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of their workforce. One of the ways enterprises can achieve this is by setting up an internal incubator programme, such as the CA Accelerator programme, where employees receive support and funding to develop and deliver innovative solutions.
Incubations can be treated like true start-up businesses where employees have the freedom to engage the marketplace and socialise their ideas. At the same time, this type of initiative provides a safe sandbox for the participants to vet their ideas, experiment continuously, solve problems and validating the market need for their innovations. By fuelling the entrepreneurial spark in employees and cultivating a culture of innovation, organisations will be able to conceive the fresh thinking and new approaches that they need to succeed in today’s digital-first environment.
Unlocking Singapore’s digital future
When we gaze into the crystal ball, it is no exaggeration to say that the job landscape of tomorrow will be almost non-recognisable. This is why reskilling and the entrepreneurial spirit need to be at the heart of today’s workforce.
When enterprises actively offer reskilling opportunities and foster an innovation-friendly environment, they are not only empowering the organisation to deliver creative solutions for their customers, but also helping their employees to stay employable and have better career prospects. This will be a vital step in enabling Singapore to leverage technology in a way that creates new opportunities - both at an individual level and on an industry level - and fully realise our nation’s digital ambitions.
About the author
Nick Lim, Vice President, ASEAN and Greater China, CA Technologies