Most workers here go for training in the hope of getting a promotion or doing better elsewhere, according to a survey by a recruitment firm.

Of almost 3,000 employees, 71 per cent said they decided to improve their skills for the sake of promotion chances in their current company.

The second most popular answer, cited by 68 per cent, was the chance of doing well at another company.

"Employers are often uncertain about the merit of investing in training and professional development because they fear that employees will simply take their new-found skills to a new organisation," said Mr Mark Hall, vice-president and country general manager of Kelly Services Singapore, which was behind the survey.

He said it shows that most of those wanting to upgrade "are actually doing it so they can advance in their existing roles".

But that job-hopping came a close second was no surprise to HR consultant Justin Ma. Getting better jobs or job terms is one of two reasons that many workers take upgrading courses, he said. The other reason, he said, "is to switch tracks in their careers - for example, when an engineer takes an MBA so as to switch to business".

The survey also showed that more than a third of respondents said that training would help them enter a new field of work.

Workers in the education or engineering sectors were most likely to see improving their skills as a way of switching fields, with about four in 10 of both categories citing that reason.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent of all respondents said training could help them start their own business.

The fear that workers might leave after being trained "has always been said to be a worry", said Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat.

"Our response is that if you don't train them, they might hop to another company which will."

Training can, in fact, help to retain employees, he added.

For OCBC Bank, which opened a $60 million training campus on Tuesday, the benefits of training employees "largely outweigh the risk", said head of learning and development Cassandra Cheng.

Training improves career satisfaction, helps employees to move within jobs in the company and helps to retain talent, she said. In annual staff engagement surveys, having learning opportunities is "one of the key drivers of engagement", she added.