Job seekers must identify, learn right skills: Workforce Singapore

Statutory board also plans to improve matching services and enhance job search website

Job seekers need to identify and learn the right skills to capitalise on job openings as hiring picks up, a Workforce Singapore (WSG) spokesman said yesterday.

The statutory board said it would find ways to continually improve job-matching services and plans to enhance its job search website,

Firms are expected to increase hiring activities, the spokesman said.

"Therefore, it is all the more relevant for job seekers to understand market trends, assess the skills requirements of the jobs that they are applying for, and to actively acquire these skills, so as to maximise results in their job searches."

It was previously reported that job opportunities next year are likely to remain good in sectors such as fintech and healthcare, while workers in manufacturing and trade may face more uncertain job prospects.

Even though the job openings are there, experts said job seekers still lack skills, especially in areas such as cyber security and robotics.

"New skills take time to build and job seekers may need a certain level of specialised knowledge or experience to be able to move into those roles," said National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay.

A study released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week found that a skills mismatch had the biggest impact on job application outcomes, out of six possible mismatches studied, including differences in industries and salary expectations.

Even though the job openings are there, experts said job seekers still lack the right skills, especially in areas such as cyber security and robotics. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said the difficulty in solving the skills mismatch lies in training not being able to catch up with industry needs, and relevant skillsets becoming deeper and harder to pick up.

For example, users now expect software to be much more user-friendly, secure and better at predicting their wants. "It is no longer just easy programming, like what you saw 10 years ago," he said.


Singapore country manager for human resource firm Adecco, Mr Mark Hall, said there is a gap in technical skills related to programming, artificial intelligence, robotics, data analytics and cyber security. He advised job seekers to identify and acquire in-demand skills through resources such as their companies' learning and development teams, or through internships in growth sectors.

Learning new skills is how Mr Tommy Tan, 51, plans to start a second career. After working in engineering for more than 25 years, he is now studying to be a registered nurse through a professional conversion programme.

He has to learn technical skills such as how to assess vital signs, as well as soft skills like communication. "It is not as straightforward as I thought, but I want to work hard to complete the course," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Job seekers must identify, learn right skills: Workforce Singapore'. Subscribe