Singapore workers more anxious about change than losing their job to automation

Unfazed about potentially losing their job, employees in Singapore instead are concerned that workplace automation will result in them having to learn new skillsets or change the way they carry out their tasks.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore workers are less anxious about potentially losing their jobs due to automation than they are about having to learn new skills or change the way they perform their tasks. Most also welcome workplace automation as a positive progress as these tools simplify work processes and reduce repetitive.

Eighty percent of employees in the country said automation helped simply work processes, while 75 percent said it replaced repetitive tasks, according to a survey by ServiceNow, which polled 304 respondents from the city-state. These findings were part of a global online survey that involved 6,477 respondents across 12 markets, including India, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, and the UK. 

Some 82 percent of Singapore workers said process automation had a positive impact on personal productivity, while 83 percent said it could improve efficiencies in the workplace and 77 percent said it would boost productivity. Another 71 percent said it would improve their company's competitiveness, compared to 61 percent who said likewise worldwide. 

Some 58 percent of Singapore workers also said automation increased opportunities for advancement, compared to the global average of 44 percent, while 68 percent in Singapore said it afforded more time for creativity, compared to 59 percent who said likewise globally. 

In addition, workers in Singapore were not anxious about potentially losing their jobs to workplace automation. Rather, their top concerns were having to learn new skills or processes--as cited by 48 percent of respondents, compared to the global average of 37 percent--and change the way they perform their tasks, as expressed by 48 percent bin Singapore and 33 percent worldwide. 

Across the globe, 85 percent of workers who received proper training found it easy to adapt to automation, compared to 39 percent who believed they received poor training. 

ServiceNow's Asia-Pacific Japan vice president and general manager Mitch Young said: "People aren't fearful of machines. Rather, they're apprehensive about change. There is tremendous opportunity for companies to get ahead of their competition...by evolving the workforce for greater automation while ensuring excellent training and preparation of employees for adoption of digital workflows."

According to the survey, the Netherlands and India reported the highest levels of process automation with 45 percent and 41 percent, respectively, of workers in the country describing their work as automated or highly automated. Singapore, at 70 percent, was amongst three markets with the highest number of workers noting that automation had been introduced to their jobs over the past three years. India was the highest at 89 percent, followed by Mexico at 80 percent.

Workplaces with the highest volume of manual or highly manual processes were Japan, at 39 percent; Hong Kong at 37 percent; the UK at 35 percent; and Australia at 35 percent. Japan also had the lowest rate of automation being introduced in their workplace, the study found.

Singapore earlier this month identified 121 job roles it believed would account for the majority of future skillsets needed in the financial sector, when data analytics and automation were pervasive over the next three to five years. These included 40 job roles identified as being highly impacted and with the potential for convergence or displacement, such as credit and loan officers and customer service and call centre agents.


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