Automation will transform Singaporean workplaces, but few employers are prepared for imminent challenges
Workplace automation is expected to double in Singapore in the next three years and transform the workplace, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory company.
The 2017 Global Future of Work Survey found that companies in Singapore expect automation to account for an average of 29% of all work being done in the next three years. This is a considerable increase from the 14% of work being done using automation today and just 7% three years ago.
While the survey found that many organisations are taking steps to prepare for these organisational changes, there is still a lack of clarity on whether HR will need to expand their capabilities to drive talent management practices in this new business landscape.
This is reflective in the survey findings which highlight that less than 10% of organisations have already taken steps or are fully prepared to identify reskilling pathways for employees whose work will be replaced by automation.
Digital transformation, however, will replace only some – and not all – of the work found in jobs today, from routine back-office services, like creating reports and filing, to tasks like self-driving vehicles.
The main role of automation remains to enhance and improve performance and productivity.
“It’s important to note… that while we will see an increase in machines and robots in
the workplace, they will not replace humans,” said Darryl Parrant, Talent and Rewards Leader, Singapore, Willis Towers Watson.
”Instead, the benefits of automation will increase workforce and workplace flexibility, change the way work is performed, and reduce costs.”
In addition, the tech takeover will create new roles such as robot trainers, data scientists, machine learning engineers and tech integrators.
As many of these future jobs do not exist in organisations today, employers will need to deconstruct jobs based on their component tasks and identify the responsibilities that can be automated.
From there they can then identify and seek out candidates with the right capabilities for the tasks they need to perform.
A cost component may follow as well, as more than half of Singapore employers (57%) expect that they will be paying higher salaries for employees with certain skill sets.
At the same time, the move towards automation will also enable flexibility and create new opportunities to draw from alternative labour pools to fill in the skills gaps.