Lack of Time Found To Be the Main Roadblock in Employee Upskilling

  • The top challenge employees face when participating in training programmes is the lack of time where they are “too busy with work” (49%) and being “unwilling to attend courses outside of work hours” (34%). Employers also cite “attending courses as disruptive to day-to-day operations” (58%) as the main obstacle when implementing training programmes for their employees.
  • In order to increase participation in training programmes, employees desire more support from their employers through “paid leave hours for training” (61%), “providing a temporary cover at work” (52%) and “short refresher courses” (43%).
  • Employers believe that the top three methods to ensure their employees are equipped with the necessary skills are through “more flexible arrangements for employees to work and learn” (43%), the “cultivation of a self-driven learning culture” (39%), and the “introduction of more training methods” (39%).

SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – 2 November 2021 – The pandemic has placed a heightened emphasis on the need for developing the skills and competencies of the workforce, in order for companies to emerge stronger and more resilient. Yet while many companies recognise the need for enhanced workforce learning programmes, NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB)’s recent Workforce Learning in Workplace Transformation (WLWT) report[1] unveiled that more must be done to encourage employees to upskill, in order to accelerate workplace transformation in the endemic world. In particular, the report uncovered that time constraints form a consequential barrier to employee participation in training programmes.


Employees Desire More Support From Their Companies


According to the report, 88% of employees revealed that their companies and line managers are supportive of their participation in training programmes. Yet the inability to find colleagues to cover the workload while employees are away for training is a real challenge faced by many. In fact, 32% voiced that more support could be provided to encourage employee participation in training programmes, especially in the form of working arrangements to cover work while one is away on course. This includes paid leave hours or days (61%), more support from supervisors or line managers to temporarily cover work (52%), or offering short refresher courses (43%).

Employers (58%) also voiced their sentiments towards supporting employees on their learning and development (L&D) journey, addressing the concern that attending courses might be disruptive to business operations. However, it is imperative for employers to prioritise the upskilling of their employees and recognise that L&D is an indelible component towards accelerating business and workplace transformation, especially in the current situation. Employers surveyed cited that in order to ensure their workforce is  equipped with the necessary skills, the shift needs to be conducted from the top, through more flexible arrangements for employees to work and learn (43%), cultivating a self-driven learning culture (39%), and introducing more training methods (39%).


Commenting on the findings, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Chee Hong Tat said, “Employers and workers want greater flexibility in when, where and how they receive training.  Our experience during the pandemic shows that this can be best achieved through a trusted online training platform which delivers quality courses that are relevant in meeting industry needs.  As part of NTUC’s Training and Placement ecosystem, NTUC LHUB is well-positioned to be a strategic partner for government and employers to deliver training outcomes, and provide lifelong employability for workers through lifelong learning.”


Lack Of Time Is The Top Challenge For Employees’ Participation In L&D Programmes


Time was found to be the top challenge and roadblock to employee participation in L&D programmes. Many employees voiced concerns of having to participate in training outside their working hours and hence were less willing to participate, contributing to the low take up of company-offered training programmes. Employees mentioned that they are too busy with work (49%), have family or personal commitments (34%) and do not have a necessary stand in to cover their work while they were away on course (32%). This correlates with the perception of employers who believe that the lack of time during work hours is the biggest obstacle faced towards skills training, being disruptive to daily operations (58%), busyness at work (58%) and employees’ lack of support or interest in the courses offered (46%).


According to Sean Lim, Director of Human Capital at NTUC LHUB, “A commonly used framework by L&D professionals is the 70-20-10 rule where 70% of learning takes place on the job, 20% through collaborative work, and the remaining 10% through formal learning methods such as sending employees for courses and training. This framework ensures that organisations take a practical and comprehensive approach when it comes to employee development, while also taking pressure off employees as they can learn in a variety of means most natural for them.”


To download the Workforce Learning in Workplace Transformation Report 2021, visit

[1] NTUC LearningHub’s Workforce Learning in Workplace Transformation 2021 Report was conducted in June 2021 with 450 working professionals, comprising 150 business leaders and 300 full-time and part-time employees across Singapore.

About NTUC LearningHub

NTUC LearningHub is the leading Continuing Education and Training provider in Singapore which aims to transform the lifelong employability of working people. Since our corporatisation in 2004, we have been working with employers and individual learners to provide learning solutions in areas such as Cloud, Infocomm Technology, Healthcare, Employability & Literacy, Business Excellence, Workplace Safety & Health, Security, Human Resources and Foreign Worker Training.

To date, NTUC LearningHub has helped over 25,000 organisations and achieved over 2.6 million training places across more than 500 courses with a pool of over 900 certified trainers. As a Total Learning Solutions provider to organisations, we also forge partnerships and offer a wide range of relevant end-to-end training solutions and work constantly to improve our training quality and delivery. In 2020, we have accelerated our foray into online learning with our Virtual Live Classes and, through working with best-in-class partners such as IBM, DuPont Sustainable Solutions and GO1, asynchronous online courses.

For more information, visit