SINGAPORE – Singaporeans are the second-most nervous about the future impact of technology on their jobs in an 11-country survey, tied with the UK and only behind France, said global professional services firm PwC on Friday (Sept 27).

Two in five Singaporeans (18 per cent) are concerned about how technology will affect their jobs, with over half (54 per cent) thinking it is likely their roles will be made obsolete or significantly changed by automation over the next 10 years, the survey found.

Singaporean workers are also the most likely to accept a lower level position in another company or industry if they believe their job was at risk of automation – 60 per cent of them compared with the global average of 47 per cent.

Being a smart nation whose government and private sector are adopting technology quickly makes Singapore’s jobs more susceptible to the impact of technological advancements, said PwC.

This was reflected in the the survey findings with 58 per cent of Singaporean respondents worried technology will make their role redundant and 36 per cent fearing they would not have the right skills.

There is still room for optimism, with 53 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed indicating they felt technology will bring more opportunities than risk in the workplace and 85 per cent feeling that technology will change their work for the better.

There is clear recognition of the change that technology will bring, with 81 per cent of Singaporean respondents already learning new skills to better understand or use technology.

Most (92 per cent) said they would take the opportunity to better understand or use technology if it were available to them.

If their jobs were at risk, 85 per cent would learn new skills now or completely re-train in order to improve their future employability.

This is a clear reflection that individuals are aware of the necessity of upskilling, and is potentially due to the increase in efforts by both the public and private sector, said PwC.

PwC cited the government programmes SkillsFuture, Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) and Industry Transformation Maps as examples of initiatives that help organisations and workers prepare for their jobs in the future.

Employers are also playing their part, with 76 per cent of respondents saying their employers are giving them chances to improve their digital skills outside of normal duties, but only 31 per cent are currently upskilling through their employers.

Singaporeans were the most likely to be learning new skills through their employers, tied with the Dutch at 35 per cent, the survey found.

But despite the availability of many programmes and opportunities to upskill, less than half of Singaporeans (44 per cent) recognised that it is their own responsibility to upskill.

In Singapore, 32 per cent felt upskilling was the government’s responsibility compared with the survey average of 22 per cent.

Ultimately, Singaporean workers are ahead of the average worker when it comes to learning new skills (81 per cent versus 77 per cent for the survey average), but it is still behind emerging countries such as India and China (both at 96 per cent).

Fang Eu-Lin, leader of PwC’s Academy in Singapore, said: “With technology, roles that are more process-driven are more at risk of being displaced and individuals doing these roles must prepare for their ‘version 2.0’ role. For example, robotic process automation is becoming more commonplace, driving greater efficiency in highly repetitive tasks.

“In the short term, this change will require employees to understand how to work with the technology. In the longer term, individuals with the skills to maximise these new opportunities will be the ones who thrive in the marketplace.”

PwC’s report, Upskilling Hopes & Fears, was carried out by Opinium between July 12 to July 19. It surveyed 22,000 adults across 11 countries, with more than 2,000 respondents from each country.

The participating countries were South Africa, Germany, Netherlands, India, Australia, France, Singapore, China, Poland, UK and the US.