Training for the future

Shalini Shukla 23 Jan 2013

Recognising the importance of investing in employees’ continued learning and providing training and development opportunities are a key way to engage and retain staff. The majority of employers (77%) allocated funding for employee training and development in the second quarter of 2012.

According to the Michael Page Employment Index Quarter 2 – 2012, for 45% of these companies, their training and development budget was the same as the corresponding quarter last year, while 29% of respondents allocated a slight increase in funding. A significant group of companies surveyed (41%) put training budgets towards specifically developing the technical skills of employees.

“More and more companies understand the importance of employee training and development. Employee retention is important and (they) have put aside budgets for employee training and development,” says Prema Latha, Faculty Head, Informatics Academy.

“The Michael Page report also shows that a quarter of the surveyed companies spread their budget across a combination of internal and external training, as well as development in technical and soft skills.”

Charlene Ang, Vice President of Local Corporate Sales, TÜV SÜD PSB Learning believes that service productivity will continue to be an important area that companies will focus on. “As increasing costs of doing business like raising rental rates has put a strain on business costs, productivity gains are seen as a way to combat this,” she says.

Therefore, training programmes related to service productivity such as ‘service six sigma’ will continue to attract interest. “In addition, in light of the slowdown in economic growth, we foresee that professional certifications will be increasingly popular as these are seen as a way to enhance employability,” Ang adds.

Looking at the issue of training from an employee’s point of view, with more foreign talents entering Singapore’s job market and the fact that degree graduates are everywhere, more Singaporeans are finding it necessary to upgrade themselves and be equipped with a higher certification, says Latha.

New modes of training

Training is now delivered through a variety of platforms, with online learning fast-becoming the preferred mode.

“Flexible modes of studies that have incorporated the latest technological developments have become increasingly popular with young adults looking to upgrade their academic studies whilst juggling work, family and social life, says Latha.

“This mode of teaching allows them to study at their own pace and negates the time needed for travelling,” she adds.

Ang has also seen an increased interest in e-learning. “Organisations are now looking at e-learning as either an alternative training mode from the traditional classroom-based format or as a hybrid model of blended learning,” says Ang.

There is also a spike in interest in leveraging on e-learning as a means of doing refresher training for experienced staff. “The flexibility, accessibility and ‘training-on-demand’ nature of e-learning is making it increasingly attractive especially for organisations where personnel are tech-savvy, working on shifts, or are stationed in various locations,” she explains.

Looking ahead

Training budgets are set to go up next year as more companies look to enhance their employees’ skills. Fully-trained employees will be a critical factor to an organisation’s profitability, they say.

Due to an expected slowdown in economic growth next year, some companies have indicated that they will keep training budgets steady next year. “We have also noticed that some of our clients take this as an opportunity to train their staff to prepare them to take advantage when the economy turns around,” says Ang.

Coaching and mentoring seem to be gaining traction as well, with more companies adopting them in as ways to develop internal staff as well as to build team relationships. “Coaching and mentoring are also means of knowledge management as senior staff can impart their wisdom and experience to newer colleagues,” says Ang.

“Our own organisation also practices coaching and mentoring as they are an effective way to leverage on the experience of our current staff and bond members of the company,” she adds.

 

Bringing the classroom to you

In April 2012, Informatics launched its Informatics Virtual Campus. A first in Singapore, the Informatics Virtual Campus is an online platform which supports 28 languages and allows students to interact with not just their peers but lecturers as well.

With Adobe Connect, lessons are recorded and can be played back anytime. “The rationale for this ‘live streaming’ concept was to provide a unique solution especially to part-time students who are busy professionals making their way to classes,” says Prema Latha, Faculty Head, Informatics Academy.

Informatics also understands that some students find it difficult to arrive in class on time because they are stuck in the office. To ensure that none of these students are disadvantaged, Informatics ‘brings the classroom to them’, reinforcing the core value of Informatics Academy – Student Centricity, in which the school focuses on the understanding of students first and foremost.

 

Casestudy

NTUC First Campus

As an NTUC Social Enterprise, the social mission at NTUC First Campus Co-operative is to provide quality early childhood care and education service that is accessible and affordable. As more childcare centres are opened to serve more families, NTUC First Campus Co-operative also strives to be the industry pacesetter in uplifting the overall standards of the childcare sector. The organisation does this by raising the quality of its own teachers and practices.

On the service quality front, NTUC First Campus Co-operative has recently embarked on its Customer-centric Initiative journey, working with TUV SUD PSB Learning, to map out its service promise of “GREAT”: Genuine interest; Respect; (going the) Extra mile; Accountability; and Thoughtfulness.

In preparation for the launch of this service focus, a service blueprint initiative was organised to study service-related processes and identify gaps in delivering service excellence and ways to close them.

This was followed by a series of structured in-house training programmes customised for all staff under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework. Through this phased implementation, staff have come to share a common understanding and expectation of what it means to deliver excellent service, the organisation says. “This initiative has contributed to a steady improvement in customer satisfaction rating amid our rapid expansion.”

Through the new focus, NTUC First Campus Co-operative aims to build a trusting and positive relationship together with children, students, parents, colleagues and the community. It says this is integral to its broader efforts to raise the quality of early childhood care and education, and to support and foster the holistic development of each child.

 

 



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