Training Boosts Productivity of Singapore's Accountants

Training has had an impact on the productivity of business and accounting professionals, but not all have been sharpening the saw to boost their productivity, according to a survey by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS). Of the 62 percent of respondents who attended training to enhance their productivity in 2010, 92 percent said the training has boosted their productivity at work.


The findings are part of the ICPAS Budget Impact Survey, conducted by the Institute’s research arm, ICPAS Research.


While most respondents (82%) indicated that their companies are supportive of their going for training, the level of training commitment differs among various age groups. In terms of undergoing training for professional development, young entrants to the workforce appear to be less involved. Among those who have worked for three years or less, the majority (56%) said they did not attend any training at all in 2010.This is so even though one of the main ways to improve productivity cited by this group was a professional certification course.


“Employers should invest in building the skills of their younger workers, which will enable them to get up to speed faster and contribute more at work, and is positive for staff retention. Alternatively, employers can look at internal job rotation, another option cited by this segment as a way to boost productivity,” says ICPAS President Dr Ernest Kan.


While 79 percent of professionals with between four to six years of experience reported that they attended training courses in 2010, the percentage decreased significantly as the respondents’ years of working experience increased. Among professionals with six to 10 years of working experience, 35 percent reported not having had any training in 2010. For professionals with working experience of 16 years or more, the figure was 39 percent.


“While it is encouraging that the survey shows most accounting and business professionals attended training to improve their skills over the past year, the relationship between increasing work experience and decreasing training attendance can be cause for concern, especially against the backdrop of an aging workforce,” says Dr. Kan.


More Effort Needed to Boost Innovation Culture


The Singapore government has highlighted the importance of having “T-shaped professionals,” workers with a broad knowledge of skills apart from their area of expertise, in building a productive economy. However for most employers, the focus of staff development is still on building core technical skills. Close to 40 percent of respondents cited lack of support from top management as a factor hindering their development as a T-shaped professional.


Innovation has been identified as one of Singapore’s key growth drivers, as mentioned in Budget 2010 speech. However, innovation-related schemes have yet to have a major impact in building a more innovation-oriented culture within companies. Two-thirds of respondents felt that the innovation-related schemes did not foster or made no difference to building an innovation-driven culture in their organisation. Key reasons for the lack of improvement are lack of personal incentives to be innovative, lack of specific channels to submit innovative ideas, and the sentiment that top management was not supportive.




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