skills, critical, future of work

The digital economy, the green economy, and the care economy — these are three high-growth areas identified in Singapore for the next three years, that present "increasing opportunities" for the local workforce.

The digital economy, the green economy, and the care economy — these are three high-growth areas SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has identified for the next three years, that present "increasing opportunities" that the local workforce can tap on for long-term career progression.

The details of these areas, which include priority skills and job opportunities to capitalise on, were released in SSG's inaugural Skills Demand for the Future Economy Reportlaunched in December by Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing.

The skills, such as critical core skills (also called 'skills-to-build' skills) and skills for each high-growth area, are listed below.

16 critical core skills for the future of work 

With automation and digitalisation driving business transformations and job content changes across a wide range of sectors, soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability are most in-demand by employers today, the report stated.

Overall, the 16 key skills have been classified into three clusters:

Cluster #1: Thinking critically

These are cognitive skills needed to think broadly and creatively, in order to see connections and opportunities in the midst of change. Cognitive skills are at the root of technical skill development and progression.

  1. Creative thinking
  2. Decision making
  3. Problem-solving
  4. Sensemaking
  5. Transdisciplinary thinking

Cluster #2: Interacting with others

Being effective at interacting with others means thinking about the needs of others, as well as being able to exchange ideas and build a shared understanding of a problem or situation. Increasingly, individuals need to be able to combine their technical skills with others to succeed.

  1. Building inclusivity
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Customer orientation
  5. Developing people
  6. Influence

Cluster #3: Staying relevant

Managing oneself effectively, and paying close attention to trends impacting work lives, helps create strategies, direction, and motivation for technical skill development.

  1. Adaptability
  2. Digital fluency
  3. Global perspective
  4. Learning agility
  5. Self-management

Priority skills needed in the digital economy

Simply putting it, the report cites the digital economy as "a marketplace defined, organised, enabled, and facilitated by digital technologies".

The majority of digital economy jobs in Singapore, it adds, are tech-lite roles that can be found in many industries. These are not necessarily new job roles; they can include existing ones that evolve through digitalisation, requiring digital skills to perform new job functions and/or processes.

Top 20 clusters of priority skills for tech-lite roles in the digital economy:

  1. Technology application 
  2. Data analysis/analytics
  3. Market research/trend
  4. Technology scanning/evaluation
  5. Automation application
  6. Statistical analysis
  7. Business environment analysis
  8. Systems thinking
  9. Knowledge management
  10. Internet of Things management
  11. Consumer intelligence analysis
  12. Computational modelling
  13. Internet of Things application
  14. Financial analysis
  15. Big Data analysis/analytics
  16. Data visualisation
  17. Data governance
  18. Building information modelling application
  19. Artificial Intelligence application
  20. Business needs analysis

Technology application (skills to operate, adopt, and apply new technology), data analysis/analytics (skills covering data collection, data management, data interpretation and data visualisation, applied in research or business), and market research/trend (skills to enable businesses to make informed decisions on their business directions) have been identified as the top three clusters.

These skills are required in two-thirds of all tech-lite roles across 23 Industry Transformation Map (ITM) sectors. These sectors include, most commonly, financial services, retail, and sea transport.

Meanwhile, the report also pointed out another set of job roles in the digital economy — tech-heavy job roles, which entail specialised and highly complex functions. The clusters of skills required for these job roles are critical to lead digital transformation in tech-reliant industries and organisations.

Top 20 clusters of priority skills for tech-heavy roles in the digital economy:

  1. Technology development
  2. Data engineering
  3. Internet of Things management
  4. Technology scanning/evaluation
  5. Business needs analysis
  6. Big Data analysis/analytics
  7. Technology application
  8. Internet of Things application
  9. Data analysis/analytics
  10. Knowledge management
  11. System integration
  12. Augmented Reality application
  13. Business environment analysis
  14. Market research/trend
  15. Systems thinking
  16. Software configuration
  17. Infrastructure strategy/management
  18. Digital techniques application
  19. Database administration
  20. Application development

Technology development (skills to analyse, review, formulate and lead new digital transformation efforts with organisations’ IT systems and technologies), Internet of Things management (skills to enable working with interconnecting computing devices, equipment and machine data, in a networked environment), and data engineering (skills to develop and implement data management systems and tools) have been identified as the top three clusters. 

Due to the diverse job roles classified under tech-heavy roles, the top three clusters of skills are required in half of the tech-heavy roles across 15 ITM sectors, the report noted. These sectors include, most commonly, ICT and media, aerospace and land transport. 

Refer to pages 20 and 21 in the report here for specific skills required in the financial services and retail sectors.


Priority skills needed in the green economy

Per the report, the green economy is about living, working, and pursuing growth, while taking care of the environment and using the limited resources available as efficiently and sustainably as possible. It is an economy that achieves balance among three types of outcomes:

  1. Environmental outcomes: Sustainable use of environmental resources, thriving for net-zero carbon emissions;
  2. Economic outcomes: Sustainable use of economic/organisational resources; and
  3. Social outcomes: Equitable distribution of resources. 

Top 20 clusters of priority skills for the green economy:

  1. Green process design
  2. Carbon footprint management
  3. Environmental management system framework/policy
  4. Sustainability management
  5. Design for manufacturing & assembly
  6. Waste management
  7. Green buildings and facilities management
  8. Design for maintainability
  9. Sustainable engineering
  10. Sustainable food production design
  11. Environment management in landscape ops
  12. Energy management
  13. Environment & social governance
  14. Sustainability design
  15. Solar photovoltaic systems design
  16. Irrigation management
  17. Space design
  18. Smart facilities
  19. Utilities management
  20. Energy trading

Refer to pages 32-34 in the report here for specific skills required in the built environment, energy & power, and agricultural sectors.


Priority skills needed in the care economy

The care economy, the report shared, refers to the professional cluster of jobs and skills that provides care and support services involved in the nurturing and teaching of current and future populations.

The sectors delivering these services typically involve healthcare, wellness, community care, early childhood (EC), general education, and training and adult education (TAE).

Looking at the drivers of growth in this economy, developments in new care models, technological innovations, and community resources to meet increasing needs, the report highlighted three ways jobs and skills could be impacted:

#1 Tech enablement to support quality care management, outcomes, and empowerment

Technological advancements have afforded new capabilities that enable more accurate diagnosis, intervention, and targeted care plans. On the consumer front, innovative health and learning solutions have empowered consumers to be more proactive in their own wellness and learning management, prompting client-centric design and delivery to become the core of care and learning services.

#2 Multi-disciplinary skills and community collaboration to provide more holistic and inclusive care

Community partnerships and strong collaborations across different disciplines create and foster stronger networks to provide innovative, integrated, and comprehensive services and solutions.

#3 Alternate sources of workers as valuable community resources for care organisations

Non-traditional workers and the informal workforce, such as volunteers and part-timers, are important resources to lighten manpower crunches, enhance care services and strengthen engagement within the community; using technology to augment and roll out services is an emerging practice as well.

Top 20 clusters of priority skills for the care economy

  1.  Conduct & ethics
  2. Stakeholder management
  3. Inclusive practices
  4. Change management framework
  5. Reflective practice
  6. Emergency management
  7. Strategy development
  8. Safety management framework
  9. Collaborative practices
  10. Supervision/mentorship
  11. Inter-professional collaboration
  12. Curriculum design
  13. Personal effectiveness
  14. Audit management
  15. Social sector policy influence
  16. People management
  17. Healthcare/social policy formulation/development
  18. Organisation training needs
  19. Infection control
  20. Healthcare/social service programme implementation

Based on the ranking of priority skills, the top three clusters of skills (i.e. conduct and ethics, stakeholder management, and inclusive practices) are required in two-thirds of job roles in the care economy. Sector-specific skills form the bulk of the other top skills clusters, with at least 25% of the job roles requiring skills in these clusters.

Besides these priority skills, digital skills are also fast-emerging in the care economy, according to the report. Digital skills in care focus mainly on tech-lite roles, to develop predictive insights, track efficacy, and enhance outreach.

Refer to pages 45-49 in the report here for specific skills required in the healthcare, community care, social service, EC, and TAE sectors.


Image / 123RF

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