Soft Skills along with Technical Abilities Needed

 by Courtney Carlson, Managing Director, Rutgers Business School Asia-Pacific

Attracting and retaining talent are among the top HR challenges for the education industry in Singapore. While these challenges are certainly shared by many other industries, one of the additional factors in education is the challenge of being able to provide and a compensation and reward structure that is competitive with the private sector. In general, salaries are lower in education than in the private sector in Singapore, so organisations in the education industry have to work hard to provide sufficient compensation and rewards as well as a positive work environment including professional development that will help to attract and retain talent. These challenges certainly exist in other parts of the world as well as in other industries.


My colleagues in China find that one of the key HR challenges in education there is finding talent with soft skills that complement their strong technical abilities – a challenge I’ve found in Singapore as well. There continues to be a need for development of soft skills such team building, innovation, and active listening. Organisations also need staff who think creatively and take initiative to identify new opportunities, find ways to act on them, and who also contribute to internal needs such as finding and implementing ways to improve existing work processes.

To deal with the recruitment and retention challenges, educational institutions must develop reward structures that are closely tied to measurable performance indicators. With positive performance, employees can be rewarded with opportunities or rewards that are simply monetary. For example, educational institutions, can offer staff tuition remission for classes or other opportunities for professional development as a reward for performance. Establishing and supporting a work environment that encourages staff to be creative and entrepreneurial while also providing them with professional development or training opportunities are ways to help educational institutions cope with the HR challenges they face.

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