Companies not investing enough in workers: National Business Survey

Only 12 per cent of respondents had invested in better training for their employees, the Singapore Business Federation's survey of 705 companies revealed.
Only 12 per cent of respondents had invested in better training for their employees, the Singapore Business Federation's survey of 705 companies revealed.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - Companies are not investing enough in their employees to address manpower challenges, the latest National Business Survey has found.

Businesses said the lack of suitable manpower with technological expertise and the retraining of workers to develop their digital skills were the key challenges they faced last year.

Only 12 per cent of respondents had invested in better training for their employees, the Singapore Business Federation's (SBF) survey of 705 companies revealed.

Releasing the findings on Thursday (Jan 17), SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng said that businesses need to invest more resources in continual training so that employees can deepen their skills and keep pace with fast-changing technologies.

One problem may be that companies are not aware of the government and industry schemes available to help them with worker training, and better outreach efforts could help to resolve this issue, Mr Teo noted.

The survey also found that companies want new government measures to support their innovation drive.

About one in three companies said it increased its use of new technologies over the past 12 months, and more than half implemented innovations last year.

 
 

Companies' key priorities for this year include developing digital business capabilities, reviewing business models or structures, and improving customer experience.

Some 63 per cent of respondents want this year's Budget to help support access to new and critical technologies. About half of companies also said they want support for digital adoption and transformation.

Mr Teo said the Government can "play an important and deeper role in boosting innovation and building capabilities through advice and funding support, particularly in today's challenging environment".

"Disruption is still happening, in addition to the uncertain global geopolitical environment," he said. "It is important for companies to continue focusing on the long term and innovate, so they can continue to sharpen their competitive advantage while they keep an eye on the immediate term."

Around half of companies believe the business climate here will stay unchanged in the coming year, while two in five companies expect conditions to worsen, the survey showed.

The SBF annual survey was conducted between September and December in 2018, and 88 per cent of the respondents were small and medium-sized enterprises. Local and foreign-owned companies operating in Singapore took part in the survey.