Despite the increasing importance and growing demand for talents with green skills in Singapore, the top three skills categories that employees prioritize are digital skills (69 percent), analytical skills (53 percent) and soft skills (51 percent), said a study.

Ranked after “self management” skills, green skills are currently considered less valuable by employees, ranked first by only 12 percent in Singapore—compared with 17.7 percent in Asia Pacific, Google and Economist Impact said in its findings on Monday.

The regional skilling study “Bridging the skills: fuelling careers and the economy in Asia Pacific”, seeks to understand the trends that are driving demand for particular skills, gaps in workforce expertise and motivations for upskilling and reskilling across the APAC region.

According to the study, even with government subsidies (one of the motivations for employees across APAC to acquire new skills i.e. digital skills, soft skills, green skills), a significantly lower percentage of employees in Singapore (17 percent) are motivated to pick up green skills compared to its regional neighbors—Philippines (28 percent), Indonesia (33 percent), Malaysia (33 percent), Thailand (21 percent) and Vietnam (21 percent).

Against this backdrop, the study reckons that there is a need to equip Singapore’s talent pool with green skills as the Singapore government estimated in 2020 that the city-state would create 55,000 jobs in the coming decade in response to the growing focus on sustainable development.

“In our fight against global environmental challenges, the demand for a workforce that possesses green skills and knowledge is rapidly intensifying,” said Ben King, Managing Director, Google Singapore.

According to him, search interests on “sustainability jobs” on Google reached an all-time high in 2022 in Singapore, but more can be done to show how green jobs can benefit career growth and open opportunities.

To instill a recognition of the importance and value of green skills amongst the wider workforce, he said companies must lead by example and invest in cultivating a culture that puts sustainability at its core.

“Offering internal training and education reimbursements can be ways to encourage employees to upskill. From software engineers to marketers to finance professionals – every job role can play a part in driving sustainability-related initiatives and making a positive impact,” he added.

The study also found that nearly half (49 percent) of employees surveyed have a poor understanding of what skills are needed in the market.

This lack of clarity, compounded with the lack of time and resources, appear to be key barriers to employees picking up new skills.

To address this gap, the government awareness programs are crucial, with 6 in 10 (61 percent) of employees in Singapore who rely on government awareness programs to get information about which skills will be valuable in the future, substantially higher than the regional average (42.5 percent).

“To realize Singapore’s vision of a thriving digital and green economy, we need to push for continuous skills development,” said King.

He believes it’s important that everyone has the chance to acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise in their respective fields and it starts with providing inclusive, accessible upskilling opportunities.

“As the majority of employees in Singapore rely on government awareness programs as their primary source of information, strategic public-private partnerships can cultivate greater awareness of upskilling initiatives and reach the wider community,

“Together, such partnerships can help to build a resilient ecosystem that empowers our workforce with the necessary knowledge to tackle the challenges of tomorrow with confidence,” he added.

Economist Impact, supported by Google, conducted a survey of 1,375 employees across Asia-Pacific (APAC), including 100 employees from Singapore, between November 2022 and January 2023.

It also interviewed employers and industry experts across the region to understand their perspectives on skills gaps, as well as reskilling and upskilling aspirations.

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