Salesforce, the world's leading CRM company, released its Global Digital Skills Index, demonstrating a growing global digital skills crisis and the need for immediate action. The Index is based on responses from over 23,500 workers in 19 countries who said they were ready to learn the digital skills that businesses require today and in the next five years.
In Singapore, nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) do not believe they are "very equipped" to gain the digital skills required by firms today, and 71% do not believe they are "very equipped" for the future. Despite this, only 29% are currently 'very actively' participating in digital skills acquisition and training.
“The digital skills gap cannot wait. Our research shows that we still have work to do in equipping Singaporeans for the future of work, which will be pivotal to the recovery, resilience and growth of our economy,” said Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce ASEAN. “Businesses play a critical role in collaborating with other organisations in the ecosystem, to ensure the right kinds of training and recruitment opportunities scale up to match digital demand and reach all aspects of society equally.”
The global digital skills gap
This gap is a concern – but it also presents an opportunity. With companies worldwide rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared. The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling, is currently only 33 out of 100, highlighting an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap.
While the research highlights that certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, it is clear that all nations still have a lot of work to do. Bridging the digital divide is imperative to maintaining and improving standards of living across the globe. Only 17% of all respondents globally consider themselves ‘advanced’ in workplace digital skills while nearly half (49%) still rate themselves as ‘beginner’.
Emerging nations are most confident about digital readiness
India, Mexico, Brazil, and Thailand respondents are more optimistic about their digital future than those in developed countries. India obtains the highest digital readiness score in the Index (63 out of 100), with 76 percent of respondents feeling extremely prepared for a digital skills-led job today and 72% are ‘very actively’ learning new digital skills.
According to the Index, Singapore ranks seventh with a score of 35 out of 100.
RAND Europe’s recent The Global Digital Skills Gap report indicates that certain countries will be more impacted by the digital skills gap than others, depending on their economic structure, industries and labour distribution. Concerns of higher risk may be driving a bigger, faster commitment to digital education — India’s digital skills gap has the greatest GDP growth risk at an average of 2.3% every year, followed by Mexico at 1.8% GDP. The United Kingdom and Australia, on the other hand, sit at just 0.5%.
Everyday digital skills don't always translate to the workplace
Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation don’t necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by businesses to drive recovery, resilience and growth.
In Singapore, the majority of Gen Z and millennial respondents (84%) claim to have 'advanced' or 'intermediate' social media abilities, confirming the stereotype of digital mastery among the younger generation, yet just 40% believe they are qualified for the professional digital skills required now.
While the vast majority of respondents in North America (83%), Europe (82%), and Asia-Pacific (70%) have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills, only a third in each (31%, 24%, and 34%, respectively) feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed over the next five years.
The most important digital skills needed by businesses today
According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology like Slack are viewed by Singapore respondents as the most important skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years. This is followed by digital administrative and encryption and cybersecurity skills.
Yet, less than a third of respondents in Singapore rate themselves ‘advanced’ in these skills:
30% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in collaboration technology skills;
26% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in digital administrative skills;
21% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in encryption and cybersecurity skills.
Reskilling the workforce
Over half of all Index respondents (51%) wish to learn new skills to advance in their existing jobs. In Singapore, the figure is 46%. Businesses can accelerate the closing of skills shortages by using the potential of existing workforces.
The Index also reveals that younger respondents in Singapore have greater confidence and ambition to learn new skills — 36% of Gen Z and millennial respondents are ‘very actively’ learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 19% of respondents aged 50 and above. Businesses have a major opportunity to nurture talent by providing tailored, ‘always on’ training that will help drive growth and innovation, increase equity and engagement and create strong leaders for the future.
Business-led collaboration is essential
Now, more than ever, businesses are responsible for creating close collaboration with governments, partners, and communities to tackle the widening skills crisis. Salesforce’s own commitment includes equitable access to digital skills through its free online learning platform Trailhead, which has helped more than 3.7 million people learn new skills for the future of work, including 85,000 in ASEAN, and its Trailblazer Community, which empowers people to learn alongside Salesforce peers and experts.
As part of its continued efforts to encourage Singaporeans to kickstart their digital skills learning, Salesforce has announced the launch of Singapore Trailmixes — six unique Singapore-themed digital learning paths on Trailhead. They include the Merlion Trailmix, which covers digital marketing, and the Mandai Trailmix, which is focused on data analytics.
Salesforce has also forged alliances with renowned educational institutions to deliver apprenticeships, skilling, grants, and charity programmes around the world. Salesforce collaborates with partners in ASEAN to help workers reskill and upskill, such as SkillsFuture in Singapore and DEPA in Thailand.