As the energy industry continues to transform rapidly, learning and development is a key priority for Senoko Energy – having been a Certified On-The-Job Training Centre (COJTC) by the Institute of Technical Education since 1997 and awarded the COJTC Distinguished Partner Award last year in recognition of its commitment to people development through a structured on-the-job system.
At the same time, the focus is on inculcating soft skills and other functional skill sets for employees’ holistic development.
“To adapt to the industry’s shifting priorities, I work closely with my HR team to adapt training techniques beyond face-to-face learning. Our efforts to champion skills development and build a culture of lifelong learning earned us the SkillsFuture Employer Award in 2019,” says Joey Kwek, Vice President, Human Resources & Corporate Services, Senoko Energy.
Interview excerpts below:
Q Talk us through the major L&D campaigns you and your team are undertaking.
We believe our people are our greatest assets and we want to ensure they can stay ahead in their careers. For our technical teams, we use a competency matrix tailored to their career progression to help them identify the new skills that we can support them in developing. We also encourage our younger employees to proactively learn from the wealth of knowledge and experience of their senior colleagues through day-to-day interactions.
This year, we launched a “Learning Fiesta” campaign with the tag line of, “I learn everyday” to motivate employees to find opportunities to learn. At this full-day event, external learning partners and internal colleagues conducted sharing sessions in different modes, including e-learning, experiential VR environments and on-the-job training, on topics covering both technical and soft skills.
Q In your sector, what are the top skills that are most in demand, and how are you developing these capabilities?
Technical and IT skills, as well as expertise in environmental management, are in great demand in the energy sector. While technical skills have been the very core of the work we do, a growing focus on digitalisation and sustainability has made IT and environmental management increasingly sought-after.
As the industry is constantly evolving, leadership and analytical skills to underpin trading and portfolio management are also needed to ensure the organisation can quickly adapt and thrive.
We are working with the government to support the Energy Industry Scholarship and the Singapore-Industry Scholarship, under which students get the opportunity to join us as an intern and develop a better understanding of the power sector before commencing their careers with Senoko Energy. To ensure their holistic development, we have a team dedicated to managing technical training and another to oversee soft skills.
We also put great emphasis on nurturing our current employees, and our comprehensive talent management programme aims to develop high-performing employees into future leaders. Securing the right talent and investing in our people will help us to optimise our assets, grow the Senoko brand and ensure the long-term viability of our business.
As we continue to provide the best and most relevant training platforms and tools, employees must also take ownership for their professional growth.
Q On the other hand, what are some previously talked-about skills that are on their way out?
As the energy industry evolves, so have the job roles. Some technical skills such as the reading of meters, which were crucial to the functioning of the utilities sector, have become obsolete with the advent of telemetering.
While digital capabilities are widely discussed across industries, they have become even more timely amid the ongoing COVID-19 situation, as our employees rapidly adapt to new virtual tools to ensure we can continue to operate as an essential service provider.
While equipping our employees with new skills is an ongoing pursuit, the way we approach training has evolved. Our approach now is to inculcate the mindset that the company and employees bear equal responsibility when it comes to training. As we continue to provide the best and most relevant training platforms and tools, employees must also take ownership for their professional growth.
This mindset, along with teamwork and the ability to adapt to change against the backdrop of the energy sector’s transformation, will remain as essential skills.
Q It would be too simplistic to believe that digitalisation is the only game changer when it comes to skills. What are some of the other key factors to take into consideration, going forward?
There are a number of critical transformations being experienced by the energy industry, which underpin economic growth and progress in all areas of development. Notably, the sector has a critical role to play in finding solutions for the world’s shift to sustainable development and there is now an increased demand for renewable and low-carbon technologies.
New business models have also emerged in recent years, including greater collaboration across countries on initiatives such as regional power grids. Such changes will see a shift in the skills needed by the industry.
As industries evolve and give rise to new job opportunities, the energy sector – which can be difficult to understand for an industry outsider – has become more challenging to attract young professionals, especially in technical roles such as engineering.
However, working in this sector is akin to serving the nation and this is a calling our employees have often identified with. We hope to bring this message across to light the ambitions of the younger generation.
This interview first appeared as part of a feature in the May-June 2020 e-mag of Human Resources, Singapore, and the Q2 2020 edition of Human Resources, Malaysia. Read the case study in the e-mag, or the full feature here.
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