As Singapore recovers from the pandemic, there is urgency to hasten efforts to transform the nation’s workforce to drive socioeconomic growth. A balanced approach is needed for this. While businesses and workforces in sectors that are still recovering from the pandemic need help to pivot and transform, those that are well-placed to boost their capabilities should be enabled to seize emerging opportunities, particularly in sustainability and the green economy.
The workforce transformation measures announced in Singapore Budget 2022 are welcome and we look forward to more clarity and certainty on the following four key areas.
Supporting the green transition
To drive Singapore’s green transition and achieve the goals set out in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, green-related skills and jobs should accordingly grow in demand. It is timely to develop a green job transformation map (JTM) articulating how organizations can transform their current job roles into green ones, while developing additional capabilities to create new in-demand green jobs.
The green JTM can be further augmented by a green skills framework outlining the emerging and critical skills needed for each green job, while complementing the existing 34 skills frameworks. It will also offer a clear pathway for enterprises to improve their human capital practices to raise, train and sustain a workforce that is well-positioned for the green economy.
Such a green skills framework fosters a nationwide approach to developing a green workforce by guiding institutes of higher learning and adult training providers in developing the right training programs. Such programs will develop green-related skills and enable individuals and employers on their green upskilling journey.
Helping the hardest-hit sectors
Sectors most impacted by the pandemic — such as air transport, aerospace, tourism, retail and food and beverage — will face much difficulty in their recovery efforts. This in turn impacts their ability to attract and retain talent as employees may be apprehensive over the uncertain business outlook and job stability.
These companies need to offer differentiated customer experiences (CX) to rebound stronger. This entails reimagining their customer journeys, leveraging digitalization to engage customers and stakeholders differently as well as building stronger partnerships and collaborations. As driving a differentiated CX will require new or upskilled talents, targeted government support for organizational CX transformation efforts and related upskilling initiatives will be useful.
Uplifting low-wage workers
The extension of the Progressive Wage Model to more sectors, including retail, food services and waste management, is laudable and will go a long way in enhancing the skills and remuneration of low-wage workers in these sectors. Job redesign can also be a key enabler for businesses to enhance the productivity of these workers.
The concept of job redesign is not new. What is new is adopting a structured way to redesign and reimagine how jobs are done, based on these four key facets: organizational strategy and structure, processes and tasks, technology and people. Given the interdependence of the four facets, a structured approach is critical to the effectiveness of job redesign. For example, changes in the organizational strategy can drive the adoption of new technologies, which in turn requires upskilling and the creation of a culture that supports digitalization.
To help companies in these sectors leverage the enhanced skill sets of their low-wage workers, more can be done to pre-scope technology and job redesign solutions within the ambit of the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). This will allow a more seamless process for enterprises to tap into the PSG to digitalize, automate work processes and redesign job roles.