SINGAPORE: About 50 per cent of Singapore businesses feel that although the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) are a good government initiative, they are still developing an understanding of the processes the transformation roadmaps entail and hence, unable to assess the maps’ impact.
That is one of the findings from the latest National Business Survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) released on Thursday (Jan 10), which collected the views of 1,019 members across all major industries.
The data was collected from Oct 11 to Dec 13 last year from both small- and medium-sized enterprises and large companies.
The survey showed that one in four companies have been slower to adopt technology and embrace new business methods. As a result, six in 10 of these businesses have reported lower business profitability over the past 12 months.
However, one-third of the respondents said they have responded to the launch of 15 out of a total of 23 ITMs so far, and are beginning to reap the rewards in terms of profitability and growth.
Looking ahead, businesses polled said that support for digital transformation should be prioritised in the upcoming Budget – ahead of relaxation of foreign employee quotas and facilitation of overseas markets access.
Meanwhile, 72 per cent of the respondents identified hiring people with the right skills and attitude as a key challenge, with another 50 per cent hoping that the ITMs will help solve manpower needs and improve the talent pipeline.
Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, said there is scope for the Singapore government to look at skills shortages and help companies address this gap.
“The government can also give thought to be more flexible in manpower policies for the areas where there is a shortage of the relevant skills especially when it comes to helping companies understand and adopt disruptive technologies and overseas expansion.”
Findings from the survey also revealed that more Singapore companies are going international, with 83 per cent of them currently engaging in business activities overseas, up from 56 per cent in 2016.
However, almost all (93 per cent) said they still need more help in understanding compliance, regulations and standards in overseas markets in order for them to succeed.
Information on taxation rules in other countries, difficulty in sourcing relevant local contacts in overseas markets and the hope for better partnerships with overseas local firms are among the key barriers businesses say they face in their internationalisation efforts.
Mr Ho said it will ramp up efforts to equip businesses with the knowledge and expertise to overcome these challenges.
“This includes the sharing of more market insights, especially during Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN, and raising the awareness of our businesses on our Free Trade Agreements and their benefits,” he said.