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Continuous learning is key to winning the war for talent

By Deepshikha Kumar

For employers, attracting talent is critical to remaining competitive, but nurturing the talent you have is the key to winning the war for talent.

Singapore is ready to attract top-notch talent from all corners of the globe to address the local labour crunch. As companies in the city-state ready themselves for the upcoming talent grab, they should remember that the most important resource in winning the war for talent lies in every company’s backyard—your talent.

Singapore is attracting foreign workers earning $30,000 per month with a five-year work pass. Those who don’t meet this criterion but are in selected industries will also be considered, according to the government. Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng said in August that the moves are aimed at showing Singapore’s commitment to reopening after the pandemic. “As a country with little or no natural resources, talent is our only resource and talent acquisition is an offensive strategy for us,” he said.

For more than two years, economies around the world closed their doors to fight the spread of Covid-19 within their borders. During this pandemic, employees relied on Zoom calls and presentations, cloud storage, endless spreadsheets, online presentations, and countless emails to ensure that they could continue to work during lockdowns. Companies built digital productivity tools and relied on digital security solutions to ensure that employees could continue to do what they needed to do.

Now that economies are reopening, we’re all stepping into a drastically different world. We’ve experienced how technology can change the way we work. The OECD estimates that at least 1.1 billion jobs are likely to be transformed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That means at least one in seven of us around the world will need to learn new skills or update current ones in some form or another.

Employees have already caught onto this trend, and see the potential economic benefits. A 2021 survey conducted by Gallup and Amazon showed that 57% of Americans were extremely or very interested in upskilling, as most can expect an increase in annual income as a result.

Advanced digital skills can add $6.3 trillion to the global economy annually, according to an AWS and Gallup estimate. For employees, these skills translate into tangible benefits. Among those who took the same AWS/Gallup survey and have completed some form of digital skill training in the past year, 98% said their careers have progressed as a result. The benefits for employees are even more obvious: the same survey shows that companies who employ digital skills greatly are seeing annual revenues 168% higher than those who do not.

It’s not only digital skills that benefit employees and employers. A recent Visier report shows the top skills required by employees in the United States include soft skills such as people management, leadership and communication.

But for an employee who’s keen on picking up these technical, social, and management skills to advance their career, they would need to set aside time to hone them. They also need opportunities. This is one area where mentoring and coaching can play a huge role.

Again, employees have come out with resounding clarity on what they expect to see to make this happen. A survey of Singapore-based workers in May by HubSpot showed that 90% of them know what values they hope to see in a workplace that can help them grow career-wise. Notably, the characteristic that they want to see the most in a workplace that can help them grow is an environment where constant learning or upskilling is encouraged—two in three chose this option.

In today’s world, it’s all too easy for employers to cast their net wide when searching for job candidates and regard them as potential replacement parts for cogs in their giant corporate machine. Employees on the other hand can simply turn to LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Blind to learn more about employers before deciding if they should jump ship.

But a constant churn of talent in the labour market is not ideal—resources are needlessly wasted on trying to fill roles that could become empty in the next year; workers’ career paths get derailed and they do not get to develop deep expertise and skill sets. In this new environment, it is becoming clear that quick and practitioner-driven learning will be the meta-competency for all of us. We all need quick attainable learnings from mentors who have been there, done that.

The global jobs market is facing unprecedented shifts that will impact how companies look for talent, and how employees carve meaningful career progressions that are in line with their values. In this new paradigm, a company’s existing talent pool is its greatest asset. If employers care to cater for employees’ ambitions, they are likely to find more engaged employees who bring more to their work. Far from being ‘quiet quitters’ some will become cheerleaders for their employers. In the war on talent that is when half the battle will be won.

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