Building a lifelong learning culture at the workplace

EXCLUSIVE: Through a culture of learning, Senoko Energy encourages openness and dynamism, and helps its workforce prepare for future demands
By: | April 15, 2020

Having served Singapore’s power generation needs for more than four decades, power generation company Senoko Energy has overseen and experienced a sea change of reforms and developments in the energy industry. For instance, more renewable technologies are being introduced, energy markets are liberalising, and digitalisation is enabling capabilities that have never existed before, shared Joey Kwek, vice-president, Human Resource and Corporate Services, Senoko Energy.

Speaking exclusively to HRM Asia, she added, “From a talent management perspective, that means more needs to be done to keep our workforce updated on the evolving business requirements to ensure that they stay relevant. This is why we are actively investing in developing news skills and on-the-job training.”

Currently employing 300 people as one of Singapore’s largest power generation companies, Senoko Energy faces a similar challenge to many companies operating in Singapore. According to statistics by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, persons aged 55 and older took up 23.8% of the labour force in 2018. Exacerbating the aging workforce conundrum, is a negative perception of the energy sector by the next-generation workforce.

“The energy sector, which can be difficult to understand for an industry outsider, has become less appealing for young graduates and professionals, especially in technical roles such as engineering,” Kwek explained. “There is a perception that jobs in the energy sector are backend and not as glamorous as office roles that have become mainstream today.”

Senoko Energy invests heavily in helping older employees upskill through on-the-job training to equip them with the technical and soft skills required to meet the needs of the changing energy industry. Simultaneously, they are adopting initiatives to build an understanding and appreciation of the energy sector among the younger generation.

For example, through government-supported scholarships such as the Energy-Industry Scholarship (EIS) and the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS), scholars get the opportunity to join as interns, and develop a better understanding of the power sector before commencing their careers with Senoko Energy.

Another key component of the company’s hiring policy is the belief in fair remuneration. “We have some of the most competitive remuneration schemes based on the candidate’s qualifications, experience and skill sets,” said Kwek. “Other comprehensive benefits such as leave schemes, medical benefits, training programmes and awards are also provided to our employees.”

With the belief that a company’s values are at the core of employer branding and attracting new talent, Senoko Energy cultivates a culture of openness and dynamism, while remaining family-centric at its core. Kwek continued, “We believe in teamwork and have built a strong culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration across the organisation. We also believe that our employees are our biggest asset, and that we need to constantly evolve to better serve them just as they serve us.”

There is also a continued emphasis placed on nurturing current employees and preparing them for future challenges through initiatives such as the Talent Management Programme, which is aimed at developing high-performing employees into future leaders. Through a rigorous screening process, employees who are qualified are provided with tailor-made learning programmes and development opportunities to accelerate their growth.

Another key purpose the Talent Management Programme serves is to support the transfer of knowledge from the one generation to another.  As part of the programme, selected talent goes through a series of tailor-made learning programmes and development opportunities under the mentorship of senior leaders in Senoko Energy.

“In addition, we also believe that learning is an on-going process that need not be institutionalised and can take place every day and everywhere,” said Kwek. “This year, we launched a ‘Learning Fiesta’ campaign with the tagline of ‘I learn everyday’ to encourage employees to take ownership of their own learning and look for everyday opportunities to learn. We hope this campaign will encourage our younger employees to proactively learn from the wealth of knowledge and experience of their senior colleagues.”

Since 1997, Senoko Energy has been a Certified On-The-Job Training Centre (COJTC) by the Institute of Technical Education, and has developed more than 500 blueprints to equip employees with the qualifications required to deliver operational excellence. Last year, Senoko Energy was selected for the COJTC Distinguished Partner Award, which recognises commitment in people development through a structured on-the-job system. The company also bagged the SkillsFuture Employer Award 2019, based on its efforts to champion employees’ skills development, and build a lifelong learning culture at the workplace.

“Even as we look to facilitate a smooth transfer of knowledge between generations, we recognise that the energy landscape is rapidly evolving. To ensure that our workforce is ready for future demands, it is important that all employees, irrespective of age, continue to learn and upskill,” Kwek concluded.