Employee training not a priority for SG biz owners, most worried about rising interest rates

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Photo: You Tube screengrab from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je8YtcYtPAM

The latest National Business Survey conducted by the Singapore Business Federation revealed that companies are not inclined to invest in training their employees despite manpower challenges and the recurrent issue on manpower scarcity.

Of the over 700 firms surveyed that came across all major industries, only 12% of these SMEs invested in employee training. According to SBF’s chief executive Ho Meng Kit, the reluctance is due to lower profit expectations. “SMEs are thinly-resourced. Functions are done by the same team so sparing people for training is a challenge.” Likewise, the survey showed that there is a lack of emphasis on training even among C-level executives.

The appalling figure on training investment hints the need for a mindset change among all employers, Mr. David Black said. Black is the managing director of Blackbox research who also collaborated with the SBF on the survey.

“You’ve got to change the mindset that training is something that will pay off in the long term. You’ve got short-term needs that you need to deal with as well, (with) accelerated training approaches among the solutions.”

Aside from business owners’ lackadaisical attitude towards employee training, the survey revealed that the biggest concerns of these SMEs are the rising interest rates (65%) and the ongoing trade conflict between the United States and China (61%).

Replying to media men when asked if Singapore businesses had concerns about the insecurities surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union, SBF chairman Teo SS said: “Now that Brexit is coming to the doorstep supposedly in March, there’s still no solution,” he said. “Businessmen who have investments there are concerned (about) where the country is headed.”

Other findings of the survey

Among the other concerns of Singaporean businesses include finding workers with the relevant technology expertise (41%), and retraining their employees in digital capabilities (29%).

It was also found that 63% of the businesses are hoping that the 2019 Singapore Budget will offer additional assistance in accessing new and critical technologies while 33% are looking to review their business models.

The survey also indicated that firm owners hope for a review of foreign employee quotas (53%), more support for digital adoption and transformation (49%), foreign worker levies (45%), as well as lower compliance costs and regulatory fees (42%).

Overall, business outlook continue to be neutral as virtually half of those polled anticipate the 2019 local economic climate to stay impassive.