Employers in Singapore Prefer Hard Skills Over Soft Skills in Talents

April 10, 20199:23 am
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The talent-short market in Singapore is driving businesses to favour technical knowhow over emotional aptitude in candidates. This is one of the key findings in the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, a report that highlights salary and recruiting trends based on survey responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Hays Asia asked respondents the skills most sought-after by their organisation. Overall, over three in five (65 percent) employers are more inclined to hire candidates with hard skills over soft skills, revealing that project management (voted by 56 percent), statistical analysis and data mining (voted by 47 per cent) and computer skills (voted by 37 percent) were the top teachable or technical skills in demand, in that order.

By contrast, employers in Singapore are generally least interested in skills such web architecture and development framework (voted by nine per cent), UX or UI design (voted by nine per cent) and programming languages (voted by 11 per cent).

In terms of soft skills, problem solving (voted by 81 percent), team working (voted by 80 per cent), and verbal communication (voted by 74 percent) were most coveted by businesses.

On the other hand, the psychological and emotional competencies that are at the bottom of employers’ priority lists were negotiation abilities (voted by 25 percent), time management (voted by 45 percent) and flexibility (voted by 47 per cent).

Compared to Asia

Across Asia, three in five (59 percent) employers deem hard skills more desirable in candidates than soft skills. This is most apparent in Singapore with 65 per cent who say the same. However, respondents in Mainland China placed the least emphasis on hard skills while placing equal importance on soft skills.

The hard skills favoured by employers Asia-wide are project management (voted by 55 percent), statistical analysis and data mining (voted by 59 percent), and foreign language fluency (voted by 34 per cent).

When it comes to soft skills, employers in Asia deem problem solving as the most sought-after competency (voted by 75 percent), followed by team working (voted by 70 percent) and verbal communication (voted by 63 percent).

Commenting on the findings, Grant Torrens, Regional Director of Hays Singapore says: “As industries and roles evolve and expand, the skills in demand are ever-changing. Businesses in Singapore have been redefining the technical competencies required to grow and prosper.

With that in mind, candidates can benefit from staying abreast of industry developments and constantly upskill, or even reskill if needed, to maintain their competitiveness and therefore leverage in the employment market.

As for employers, soft skills should continue to be a relevant and important aspect when considering a new hire, as these skills are surely needed to complement even the deepest of knowledge and widest breadths of experience in order for both individuals and businesses to succeed.” 

Read also: Inability to Meet Evolving Customer Needs and Increasing Competition are Top Risks for Singapore SMEs: Aon Study