3 in 4 business leaders find filling vacancies difficult, but only half sent workers for training: Report

The overall utilisation of initiatives remains low at an average of 14 per cent. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Only half of business leaders surveyed said they have sent their workers for training the past six months, according to a labour research report released by the National Trades Union Congress and NTUC LearningHub on Wednesday (Dec 22).

This is despite 78 per cent of business leaders in the study reporting difficulties in filling jobs at their companies.

On Dec 15, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reported an all-time high record of 98,700 job vacancies in Singapore due to border restrictions and manpower demand in growth sectors.

The research involved 564 business leaders across different industries in Singapore, such as manufacturing, information and communications, finance and insurance services and wholesale and retail trade.

Financial costs is the top challenge faced by business leaders wanting to send their workers for training (38 per cent), followed by difficulties in identifying relevant courses (37 per cent), and matching employees to training (33 per cent).

To encourage them to send their workers for training, business leaders said that provision of higher training subsidies and business consultancy services would serve as incentives, the report stated.

Three in four business leaders surveyed said that they have participated in training-related initiatives by the Government, or labour movement.

However, the overall utilisation of initiatives remains low at an average of 14 per cent.

The survey also revealed that unionised companies are more likely to invest in training for their workers.

NTUC will continue to offer support through its training and placement ecosystem to help companies better access and leverage these initiatives, said NTUC and NTUC LearningHub.

Unions (17.9 per cent) remain one of the top three avenues where business leaders have heard of training-related initiatives, with the others being human resource departments in the company (27.5 per cent) and Government websites (25.9 per cent).

Out of those who sent their employees for training in the past six months, 57 per cent were unionised companies while 37 per cent were non-unionised companies.

The growth sectors with higher demand included professional services, financial services, information and communications, and health and social services, where resident employment has also increased in tandem, MOM had added in its third-quarter labour market report.

Occupations with more vacancies included software, Web and multimedia developers, systems analysts, commercial and marketing sales executives, accountants and nurses.

Commenting on the labour research report, NTUC deputy secretary-general Chee Hong Tat said that expanding the role of the labour movement in the national training ecosystem is crucial to shape continuing education and training for workers.

One of the ways to overcome the challenge of filling job vacancies is to upskill and uplift current employees as building on existing talent is more cost-effective than hiring new talent, said NTUC LearningHub chief executive Jeremy Ong.

"Existing employees know the business the best, in terms of company goals, values, policies and even culture, so the transition will be less disruptive... career and skills development through training is a key employee value proposition as it demonstrates companies' vested interest in the long-haul, to learn and grow together," he added.

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