HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Can flex work beat Singapore's looming talent crisis?

Singapore could lose $142.51b from labour deficit by 2030.

Singapore’s total labour deficit is expected to hit 1.09 million by 2030 and result in a total unrealised output of $142.51b (US$106.8b), consulting firm Korn Ferry previously revealed. In order to address this, upskilling the existing workforce is critical.

Robert Half Singapore managing director Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard told Singapore Business Review the IT industry, in particular, is struggling to find skilled candidates as the pace of technological advancement continues to accelerate and even surpass current available skillsets.

However, Singapore’s IT leaders are also fast recognising the benefits of flexible staffing. "Companies are far better equipped to maintain business continuity and manage new projects by embracing more dynamic workforces which carefully balance permanent and temporary IT professionals. Through the flexibility of contract IT staff, companies can easily and quickly adjust their mix of skillsets to meet changing strategic and operational demands throughout the year," he said.

Flexible work is becoming more accepted in Singapore, as nearly all (96%) of companies are planning an organisation redesign in the next two years in order to adapt to change. However, it also revealed that nearly half (48%) of employees are concerned that flex work will affect their promotion opportunities.

Still, more employees view flex work options as a core part of their value proposition, as younger employees think about their careers in a different way, to seek purpose over presence at work.

In general, IT candidates entering the employment market need to master the skills necessary to manage future technologies. "Simultaneously, companies also need to ensure their current staff continuously update their skillsets to keep pace with changing technological trends – and education providers play a highly integral role in this context," Imbert-Bouchard added.

Singapore could be up to the challenge. Korn Ferry's study said the lion city's productivity growth is classified as "fast" as it hit 2.9% in the years between 2000 to 2014, making it one of the fastest amongst the countries studied.

However, Imbert-Bouchard noted that schools need to ensure their STEM qualifications, courses and degrees evolve at the same pace as technology does as they play a vital role in securing a continuous flow of skilled IT professionals into the employment market.

"A comprehensive approach is needed with educational institutions working alongside the business community and government to ensure a continuous and sufficient influx of qualified IT talent, and adequately ‘market’ the benefits and opportunities available with a career in IT and technology," he concluded.

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