Lack of data skills hinders productivity of 94% of employers

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Most companies here believe their staff’s ability to read, understand and communicate is more important now than it was before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a of data literacy is hindering the of 94 per cent of , according to a recently released NTUC LearningHub data report.

The report, A View From The Ground: Closing The Data Skills Gap In The Covid-19 Era And Beyond, uncovers both employers’ and employees’ views on the degree of reliance on data and business intelligence in Singapore’s business landscape.

With insights from industry leaders such as IBM, SoftBank and Qlik, the report also highlights the general perception about data-related competencies of the workforce.

It also throws light on the hiring trends and preferences that businesses display, and gives recommendations for closing the skills gaps in order for businesses and workers to remain competitive.

Ninety-four per cent of employers think their reliance on data and business intelligence to make business decisions has increased from a year ago, said the report.

NTUC LearningHub works with corporate and individual clients to provide learning solutions in areas such as infocommunications, healthcare, employability and literacy, and business excellence.

The report found professional services, trade and connectivity, and lifestyle topping the list of industry clusters relying on increasing data use to drive business decisions.

Mr Kwek Kok Kwong, chief executive of NTUC LearningHub, said: “As companies are thrust into transformation during this Covid-19 era, employers have actively reassessed the workforce they need in order to navigate the new economy.

“The Covid-19 storm is far from over and all business leaders must work out their strategies in weathering this very turbulent and uncertain period ahead. In this complex business environment, data will help us a lot in supporting our intuition as we make difficult business decisions.”

The report showed 80 per cent of employers agreed that using data and business intelligence tools will make it more likely that their companies will survive this downturn.

Mr Kwek said: “We hope that through this report, more business leaders will understand how to plug the data skills gap and overcome the possible inertia in encouraging more employees to embrace data.

“We also hope that more workers will gain insight into the overall market demand for data and motivate themselves to pick up these skills.”

According to the report, 93 per cent of employers believe that improved data competencies will enable their staff to do their job better, 90 per cent showed keen interest in hiring employees who are data literate, and 66 per cent indicated they would be willing to pay more for someone who is data literate, even for a role that does not require data specialisation.

On the findings, Mr Andrew Campbell, a senior partner at IBM, said: “Singapore’s commitment to continuously upskill and increase the data literacy of its workforce will be critical for continued success.”

Ms Suganthi Shivkumar, managing director for Asean, India and South Korea at Qlik, said the report shows the roadblocks ahead for businesses in attaining a data literate workforce.

Most employees surveyed expressed a lack of confidence in their own data competencies, with 89 per cent saying they would face challenges at work if they were not good at understanding data. About 87 per cent are concerned their careers will be affected if they are not proficient in understanding data.

Mr Eric Lim, sales director at SoftBank Robotics Asia-Pacific, noted: “With the Covid-19 situation, data analysis jobs will allow employees to stay gainfully valuable to the company and be able to perform their work remotely.”

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