What digital innovation means for our workforce

Singapore has a culture of innovation, with public and private sectors alike working to develop technology that advances our digital economy. So much so that this year, the Bloomberg Global Innovation Index ranked Singapore as the third most innovative economy in the world. Rising by three places compared to 2017 and jumping ahead of European countries such as Germany and Switzerland.

This positioning as a global innovation hub means that an increasing number of companies are choosing to base their Asian operations here. In May 2017, Hewlett Packard moved to a new office campus in Singapore with Narinder Kapoor, Managing Director of Asia Pacific commenting, “It’s an attractive location because Singapore’s market remains open and competitive, attracting top talent and actively encouraging private-public sector cooperation to help fast-track technological advancement needed to advance the digital economy”.

Just like Hewlett Packard, at Upskill People Asia we see technology as a huge opportunity. While technology may bring disruption it also brings increased demand for new skills and new jobs. And skills that aren’t constantly maintained can quickly become out of date. That’s why we need to equip the workforce to better prepare for disruption and manage the rapid pace of today’s changing world.

The need for upskilling

A recent report from the World Economic Forum Towards a Reskilling Revolution – a Future of Jobs for All stated, “reskilling and retraining the existing workforce are essential levers to fuel future economic growth, enhance societal resilience in the face of technological change and pave the way for future-ready education systems for the next generation of workers.” The report was produced with input from the Ministry of Education of the Government of Singapore.

Technology means that teams can now work from anywhere at any time. The lines between working hours and personal time have blurred. Many businesses now offer flexible working, with varying hours and the option to work from home. As the workplace changes, so must education and training. Learning and development must meet the challenge and equip employees with the changing skills they need to succeed. Online learning provides a solution where:

  • employees can learn on demand at a time and location that is convenient for them.
  • companies can quickly and cost effectively update training to reflect changing needs.
  • managers can remotely track teams’ progress and monitor for development and compliance needs.

Reskilling older workers

Millennials have different learning habits to other generations and I covered more on this in my recent article about how millennials learn. But there is also the question of what suits more mature employees? Stereotypes about older workers being resistant to technology are dissolving fast. A recent Singapore Government survey showed that there has been a substantial increase in computer use by Singaporeans aged 60 and above.

Singapore’s ageing population has the advantage of Government supported schemes such as Skills Future, which provide citizens with a wide range of learning opportunities to re-skill. Driving broader take up of the credit scheme would be a benefit to all involved. However less reliance on Government funding, further investment in brand specific content and support for developing foreign talent are also required.

Only by upskilling our workers with the skills they need to adapt and thrive in the ever changing modern workplace will we be able to maintain our position as a global innovation hub. We need to train Singaporeans, and the influx of new talent that arrives in the country, by using digital innovation to help us deliver learning that meets the needs of the constantly evolving workplace.

by Richard Huggins, CEO of Upskill People Asia