Singapore workers agog over AI

Image courtesy of Larry Teo

Only 15% of workers in Singapore say they possess AI skills even though 57% identified AI as among today’s most in-demand digital skills, a new Salesforce study revealed.

Salesforce’s AI Digital Skills Survey was conducted by TRUE Global Intelligence in partnership with Dynata in February 2023, covering adults in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, India and Sweden. There were 11,035 respondents, including 1,000 in Singapore.

Findings show that there is more excitement about generative AI. While 51% are worried about job replacement, the larger majority (72%) are still excited about using it. 

This underscores the need for companies to raise understanding levels of AI and how it can supercharge human capabilities instead of replacing them.

Despite the skills gap, 63% of respondents say that their company is considering ways to use generative AI. At least seven out of 10 are already aware of how generative AI will impact their work.

Almost all (98%) of respondents say they want businesses to prioritise AI skills in their employee development strategy.

Overall, workers in Singapore ranked data security skills (60%), ethical AI and automation skills (57%), and programming skills (57%) as today’s fastest growing and in-demand skills.

In Singapore, the manufacturing industry currently ranks top for AI skills application — 21% say they use AI skills within their role, compared to the average 15%. 

In the public sector, 8% say they use AI skills in their day-to-day role, and in the healthcare industry, only 7% say they do.

Still, today’s most commonly used digital skills amongst workers in Singapore include collaboration technology, digital administration, and digital project management, with 87% using these in their day-to-day work.

Meanwhile, 16% say their role involves other related digital skills like encryption and cyber security, and only 14% claim to be using coding and app development skills.

The study also reveals a shift towards skills-based hiring, as 85% of workers in Singapore consider skills-based experience more important than a degree or industry-specific qualification when trying to land a job in today’s market.

Workers want to expand their limited set of digital skills, and nine in 10 believe that businesses should prioritise digital skills development for their employees. Based on this, workers are likely to favour companies that seek to boost emerging technology skills and focus on skills-based hiring.

Among leaders in Singapore, 97% believe that the practice of skills-based hiring provides business benefits such as improved talent retention. 

Similarly, Singapore workers believe in the benefits of this practice, with 62% of respondents from the retail industry reporting “knowledge sharing” a benefit, while those in Healthcare report ‘increased diversity’ as the top benefit (65%).

“It is critical for business leaders to introduce effective skills development programs to address the talent mismatch,” said Sujith Abraham, SVP and general manager for Salesforce ASEAN. “Only then will businesses in Singapore be able to realise the full potential of these technologies, which is especially critical to build resilience in the face of today’s headwinds.”