Skills Mismatch. What’s New?
There are various forms of job mismatch.
Many of us would have experienced rejection at some point of our career when applying for a job. Each job opening is unique and comes with a set of requirements that help hiring managers determine the best fit. To list a few of these requirements, we have:
- Technical Skills
- Soft Skills & Personality
- Industry Experience
- Education Qualifications & Professional Certifications
- Age (requirement for certain occupations)
- Salary Expectation
- Nationality (due to the Fair Consideration Framework)
- Past Employers & Average Employment Duration
The list goes on and depending on the job opening, the reasons why jobseekers get rejected vary to a large extent. Often times, skills mismatch is blamed as the main reason and according to a recent report by the Ministry of Trade and Industry1, skills mismatch may also lead to long-term unemployment.
Understanding skills mismatch.
Since it is harder to provide an objective view on how much the other non-skills related factors matter, I will attempt to shed some light on the following:
- What/Where exactly are the skills mismatches?
- What are we doing about the skills mismatches?
As a labour market analyst and data scientist with JobTech, I was able to study various data gathered from the labour market, including data on training courses that are available. Over the past 6 months, JobTech has translated more than 350,000 job descriptions in Singapore (or > 90% coverage of the job market) into skills requirements and studied the skills demand across different industries.
Blend of traditional + new skills required.
First, let me start by digging into areas of skills mismatch. With a constantly evolving job market, jobs are demanding for talents with new skills at a faster rate than before. These emerging job roles and skills inevitably led to a fault line between the skills of the existing workforce and the current needs of the market, leading to skills mismatches.
Based on JobTech data, skills mismatch is also a common area of struggle for jobs that require a mix of traditional skills and new skills, such as applying advanced analytics skills in sales; human resource; marketing; credit control; market research, cyber security; business operations and customer survey. This new blend of knowledge and skills application has given rise to some of the new jobs we see today, such as:
As a result, jobseekers who were previously confident in performing these “traditional” job functions are now being perceived to have a skills mismatch due to their lack of proficiency in the new skills.
The “right” skills blend for sales jobs.
According to JobTech’s data, in the past 6 months, nearly 1 in 5 of all 350,000+ jobs (across all industries) required this skill – “Sales”. Therefore, in order to demonstrate what I mean by the skills blend, I will use sales jobs as an example. The following illustration shows the complementary skills that are required by increasingly more sophisticated sales jobs.
So now with the help of data, we get a better understanding of exactly what/where are the skills mismatches in the job market. I will now move on to address the second question: what are we doing about the skills mismatches?
So what now?
Aggregating more than 26,000 adult training courses from over 1,100 training providers, JobTech is able to tell how many training courses and providers in the market are equipping talents with a variety of analytics skills.
Based on the table above, it seems that the skills training ecosystem has been rather well-supported, with many government inventive schemes and serious training providers stepping into the game, such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Fraud Analytics courses; UpGrad and Lithan’s digital marketing courses; NUS SCALE’s continuous education training (CET) courses that offer stackable degrees; as well as NTUC Learning Hub’s comprehensive range of ICT courses, just to name a few. The learning materials are also made readily available to today’s workforce. Furthermore, with IMDA’s digital literacy programme, many have already been actively acquiring digital and analytical skills.
While new and relevant skills may be acquired by jobseekers, without hands-on experiences in practicing them on-the-job, many jobseekers are still faced with the challenge in first earning the job opportunity to put their skills to the task. Therefore, it is perhaps time for employers to re-look at the talent market today and re-evaluate their demand for “talents with relevant experiences and skills”. If no company is willing to give jobseekers a chance to put their newly-acquired skills to the task, the pool of talents with “relevant skills and experiences” will only continue on its declining trend.
In sum, skills mismatch is not new. It is not an individual problem, whether you are an employer, employee or jobseeker today, identifying skills mismatches will become part of a continuous evaluation process that needs to take place at the individual; organisational; and even national level. it is an issue that will require the collective efforts of all members of the job market to overcome.
Till next time…
Labour Market Analyst & Data Scientist at JobTech
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