SINGAPORE (Sept 12): The majority of business leaders in Singapore are finding it a challenge to develop the right leadership talent to navigate a digital future, according to a study by recruiter Robert Half.

Some 92% of Singapore business leaders say they struggle to recruit talent with appropriate IT skills. This is the highest rate globally, and well above the Asia Pacific average of 80% and global average of 71%.

Further, 93% of Singapore business leaders say it will be challenging to train staff on new technology. This comes in second only to the United Arab Emirates’ 94%. It is also above the Asia Pacific average of 88% and the global average of 78%.

The top three barriers to adapting teams to new technologies in Singapore are difficulty in integrating with legacy systems and processes (39%), effort or cost being higher than the benefits (38%), and belief that technologies are unproven (36%).

“The rate of Singapore’s digital transformation initiatives is faster than that of their global peers. While this will be of great benefit to Singapore in the long term, cementing their position as a competitive digital leader globally, our research suggests that it may have outpaced the workforces ability to adapt to the new technologies which places additional pressure on individual organizations to bridge this skills gap in the short term,” says Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore.

At the same time, Singapore’s business leaders are more proactive in professional development for their staff. Some 73% of Singapore companies are increasing staff training budgets, compared to 65% in APAC and 64% globally.

Singapore companies have also implemented a variety of training options for staff to adapt to new technology. Some 60% have done in-person training through seminars and courses, 42% have done mentoring, 38% through online courses, and 38% reimbursed employee’s professional certification costs.

Companies here have also been taking advantage of the SkillsFuture programme, the study found.

Further, Singapore business leaders are endorsing a flexible staffing model, including a mix of permanent employees with interim and contract professionals to provide support and specialised skills when needed.

Some 81% of Singaporean business leaders agree that a combined staffing model is the most successful structure to implement digital transformation, compared to only 69% of their global peers.

“Flexible staffing allows Singaporean companies to quickly onboard the most suitable contacting talent to manage critical projects and share their skills with existing teams. In tandem with a robust professional development program, this can support company goals to build the skilled workforce needed to maximise the opportunities offered by evolving technologies,” says Imbert-Bouchard.