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Reimagine digital | Transform now

Upskilling for a Digital World

Enabling new skills, new mindsets and new ways of working.


Firm: PwC Singapore

Our role: Digitally upskilling all partners and staff

Industry: Business and professional services

Setting the scene

Years before the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore had already set out its plan to become a Smart Nation to address the impact of technology on the future of work and jobs, and to also reap new opportunities in the digital economy.

As our clients face increasing challenges and opportunities driven by technological advances and the digital economy, PwC made a firm decision to grow rapidly in these areas to continue to support our clients’ business growth and empower our staff with relevant skills in the digital era. This is one of the key driving forces of our digital transformation journey, with the ambition to be a human-led and tech enabled professional services leader. This will then allow us to sharpen our game in helping clients and our communities build trust and deliver sustained outcomes.

Issues and challenges

From our Upskilling Hopes and Fears study, we learned that one of the world’s most pressing challenges faced by businesses is the growing mismatch between the skills that people have today and those needed for the digital world. As much as digital transformation is about investing in new technology, it became clear that it is also about acquiring the necessary digital skills along with the ability to embrace new ways of working and drive a culture of innovation. All these call for a mindset shift throughout our organisation - a shift towards continuous learning.

Our greatest challenge was to influence behavioural change and digitally upskill all 3,500 of our people as we bring them onboard our digital transformation journey so that no one gets left behind. We needed to find a way to make upskilling opportunities available and accessible to all our people. With a workforce of this size, it is also worth noting that different teams and individuals are at various levels of digital maturity, savviness and confidence.

Our approach and solution

To develop all our people and empower them with new digital capabilities, we invested S$10 million in a two-year comprehensive multi-pathway programme that puts the needs of our people at the centre of our approach. The key components of our programme includes:

The firmwide digital upskilling committee

Backed with our leadership’s unanimous support, a dedicated team was set up to centrally manage our firmwide digital upskilling strategy and programme. They oversee setting benchmarking and milestones, reporting performance/progress directly to leadership, identifying improvements, managing digital platforms, learning materials and more.

The team also worked closely with our firm’s leadership to communicate our change story to all our people, gather feedback, share learning experience, and celebrate our people’s success and achievements.

The Digital Academy training centre

Focusing on data visualisation, data analytics and automation, we developed both classroom and virtual training modules that are customised to the unique needs and requirements of various business units and teams. This is where all 3,500 of our people go through hands-on training to get upskilled on the fundamental building blocks needed.

The Digital Fitness Assessment app

This learning app, developed by our global team, helps our people assess the level of their digital fitness, with micro-learning on-the-go, supported by recommended learning plans and curated, quality content. This app allows our firm to track our people’s growth journey (a public version of our learning app is available for the public community).

Learn more about the app

The Digital Accelerators programme

For individuals who are keen to further advance their digital skills and champion our firm’s digital transformation, an in-depth training programme is provided to this select group of change agents, also known as our Digital Accelerators.

Our Digital Accelerators are given protected time for their training and innovation project (business missions) solutioning. They also support teams across our firm to utilise insights, automate processes, develop solutions and improve user experiences.

The Digital Lab

As more people are digitally upskilled and enabled, we established an online technology-sharing community where our people can find, build and contribute digital tools which they have developed for others to use. The space also serves to encourage cross-team collaborations to foster innovation.

Result and impact

Since we kick started our digital upskilling programme in 2019, we saw our efforts and investment yield rewarding returns, despite ongoing COVID-19 disruptions throughout 2020. In many ways, it is because we had embarked on our digital transformation journey earlier on, that we were able to adapt quickly and shift to virtual working almost immediately when the pandemic hit.

To date, around 3,400 of our people have been upskilled and completed our Digital Academy training, and we have since invested in more in-depth training for our people including nanodegree programmes in business and data analytics, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Additionally, we have also created digital badges for our people to obtain recognition for their ability to apply their new learnings.

Equipped with the right technology, digital skills and acumen, our teams developed 31 automation frameworks and tools which have been helping to drive digital transformation across our HR and Finance functions, as well as our Tax and Assurance practices. Across our firm, we have clocked over 47K hours of time savings in these past two years.

As we shift towards a continuous learning and collaborative culture that encourages innovation, our people have developed 10 digital products, therefore transforming the way we support our clients. These new solutions function to help our clients manage risks, develop your workforce, redesign your corporate functions and more. This growing list of products can be found in our Digital Store, the latest evolution of our digital transformation journey.

Digital upskilling served as the foundation in helping to unlock new and digital ways of working, embed a digital-first approach in our culture, and empower our people to reimagine the possible. With these two years marking the beginning of our journey, there’s much to look forward to in how we will continue to transform ourselves, do more in enabling our people and create more meaningful impact for our clients and our communities.

Partner leading our digital upskilling initiative

“Everyone should be able to live, learn, work, and participate in the digital future - this is the vision that powers our digital upskilling journey. By upskilling, we mean giving our people opportunities to acquire the acumen, tools, and mindset to be resilient in the digital future so that we can effectively and sustainably progress as one PwC without leaving anyone behind.”

Ho Hean Chan, Partner leading our digital upskilling initiative
* All photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic

“By applying our own learnings and experience, we’ve been able to help our clients to improve their returns on technology investment, enable their workforce for a better future, and reimagine digital with new solution offerings to develop and execute their business strategies effectively, while ensuring that digital risks are well managed.”

Greg UnsworthDigital and Data Services Leader
Greg Unsworth

Greg Unsworth

Digital and Data Services Leader, PwC Singapore

+65 9848 6025

Ho Hean Chan

Ho Hean Chan

Partner leading our digital upskilling initiative, PwC Singapore

+65 9138 0813

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