Workplace learning trends from Singapore's inaugural Jobs-Skills Quarterly Insights

01 August 2022

Arina July Workplace Learning Insights Skillsfuture Singapore

​Among the trends observed, career/learning counselling and coaching-related skills have risen in significance and demand.

Announced by Minister of State for Education and Manpower, Ms Gan Siow Huang, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has released its first-ever Jobs-Skills Quarterly Insights

The insights will focus on a specific sector or job type in the economy that is "critical and/or high-growth", according to SSG. Developed with input from the Institute for Adult Learning and OCBC, it also focuses on skills for professionals involved in the Training and Adult Education (TAE) sector.

This report also complements the annual Skills Demand for the Future Economy report — as a whole, these two releases form part of SSG’s ongoing efforts to improve its sharing of information and insights with the public, on skills that matter to employers and the economy.

Setting the context, the TAE sector provides upskilling and reskilling for Singaporeans across all sectors of the economy. Skills associated with the TAE sector are relevant to three categories of people.

The first category consists of employees of institutions and training providers whose primary role or business is training and adult education.

The second category consists of people involved in in-house company training and development. They play an increasingly significant role as SSG strives to strengthen workplace learning across all companies.

In the broadest category, TAE skills are relevant for all individuals, in their capacity as co-workers, supervisors, or even subordinates, who want to positively impact the learning of their colleagues.

With the above in mind, the insights observed three notable trends.

Trend 1: More recognition of the importance of workplace learning

As observed in the report, there is increased recognition of the criticality of workplace learning, and the need for capabilities to organise the workplace for learning. The emphasis on workplace learning has since grown as it continues to augment the organisation’s learning culture while addressing other urgent issues such as tackling skills gaps and preparing the workforce with skills required for changing business priorities.

Over the years, learning design has evolved beyond formal in-person learning and qualification to include different modalities, with a focus on direct relevance and application to work. 

These days, workplace learning comes in various approaches — this includes in-house training sessions, on-the-job coaching/mentoring and self-initiated learning, which is catalysed by digital/online learning. New learning partnership models have surfaced between open online course providers, Institutes of Higher Learning, and market leaders, "synergising their respective expertise in andragogy and industry domains to deliver industry-relevant programmes to adult learners."

In turn, the hiring demand for workplace learning roles such as learning performance consultants has more than doubled between Q2 2021 to Q1 2022. Top skills in demand for these roles include:

  • project management

  • learning and development

  • learning mode design

Critical core skills such as creative thinking, digital fluency, and learning agility to drive change in organisations were also noted to be in demand. With more online learning during the pandemic, digital skills such as programming and coding and machine learning also surfaced in employers’ hiring requirements.

Specifically, the demand for learning and development-related skills is very strong in high-growth sectors such as information & communications technology (ICT) and financial services, particularly in functional roles such as:

  1. HR and L&D professionals who lead workforce development plans and establish systems to enable skills acquisition and measurement of organisational impact.

  2. Line managers and functional leads who train, coach and mentor employees at workplaces for more optimal work performance, or provide on-the-job training for new skills.

Trend 2: Higher demand for career counselling and coaching-related skills

Career/learning counselling and coaching-related skills have risen in significance and demand. Such efforts help translate industry trends and business transformations into tangible actions that can be taken by individuals who want to enhance their workplace performance or prepare for career pivoting. 

With business transformation taking place in almost every industry, many job roles have undergone job content changes. As a result, there is more need for coaching to help employees develop and utilise a mix of existing and new skills needed for workplace performance or even career pivoting.

Therefore, a career/workplace coach is a key role that takes on the responsibility of identifying skills gaps, bridging skills gaps, and discovering opportunities for adjacent roles with similar skill requirements. Based on job posting data, hiring demand for career coaches has also increased by 93% between the second quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The top skills in demand for these roles include:

  • people capability development

  • performance management

  • workplace performance diagnosis

Hiring companies investing in these in-house capabilities are namely from the energy, ICT, consulting & recruitment, and financial services sectors.

SSG deems this a positive trend —as such coaching can help employees go through meaningful career switches.

From an employer’s perspective, coaching identifies skills beyond employees’ current job roles and helps creates opportunities for them to use these skills to address career goals aligned to the organisation. From a macroeconomic perspective, career/workplace coaching facilitates workforce mobility amongst related sectors.

Trend 3: EdTech and related skills are powering the TAE business

The proliferation of Education Technologies (EdTech) has accelerated the provision of on-demand learning, just in time. Stemming from the lack of in-person contact during the pandemic, both enterprises and individual learners turned to various online and digital offerings to continue their skills development efforts.

With the availability of online courses, the barrier of in-person learning no longer serves as a potential challenge, and opens access to many learning opportunities through various modalities. EdTech also allows learners to personalise their learning by matching relevant courses to their skilling needs and pace of learning.

At the back end, these technologies can analyse learner data to devise targeted course offerings to different demographics of learners with different needs, including different assessment metrics. These benefits further augment the effectiveness of learning. Today, Singapore's universities, private education institutions, and training organisations are amongst the top hiring organisations for emerging EdTech roles such as instructional designers and technologists. The top skills in demand for these roles include:

  • learning solution design

  • technology-enabled learning delivery

  • curriculum design

Apart from these trends, the report also shared several key findings such as how Singapore’s key growth areas bring about opportunities for jobs and skills. 

At the same time, it offers a simple frame to understand skills, and how they impact jobs, career options and everyday lives.