Look at reskilling, upskilling as an investment, not cost, says panellist at SkillsFuture forum

CapitaLand Investment's senior executive director Manohar Khiatani said improving workers' skills will help achieve a firm's objectives. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Employers should view training as an investment rather than an unnecessary cost, said CapitaLand Investment's senior executive director Manohar Khiatani at a SkillsFuture forum on Tuesday (July 5).

He added that firms such as CapitaLand must adapt to changes and help improve their workers' skills by being training centres, which will help achieve the companies' objectives. 

Mr Manohar said: "As a real estate company, our assets under management are more than a hundred billion (dollars), but our most important resource is our people.

"If we don't have the right people, if we don't have the people who are continuously improving and reskilling and relearning, we will not come where we are, and we will not be able to go where we want to go."

He was speaking at a panel discussion at the forum titled Making Upskilling Work: By The Workplace, For The Workplace.

The one-day event, held at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar, is organised by SkillsFuture Singapore and supported by The Business Times and SPH Media.

The four-member panel comprises Mr Manohar, metal machinery supplier Flexmech Engineering's managing director Tan Ru-Ding, consultancy firm Egon Zehnder's managing partner Ang Wan May, and SkillsFuture Singapore chief executive Tan Kok Yam.

The panel discussed how training employees is vital for a successful future at the workplace.

It was moderated by The Business Times' digital editor Christopher Lim.

Panellists said that even smaller companies should not be left behind, and that it is essential for employers to start raising awareness of the need for training.

Flexmech's Mr Tan said he makes it a point to send his employees to courses every year. His company taps engineering-related programmes from institutions such as Singapore Polytechnic.

He said: "If you're in a position of power, I will encourage you to look into how much time and effort you are putting into training your people. Is this even an agenda on your monthly meeting?

"It's very often not. It's left aside, it's usually the HR person, who isn't involved in the strategy, not even involved in the discussion. And you're just doing your own thing. You should see it as a competitive advantage."

The panel raised the need for leaders to be more curious and self-aware, which it said would help assess gaps in their workplace.

Egon Zehnder's Ms Ang said: "It's not often that you get feedback all the time."

"We're asking leaders to go out and seek feedback for themselves because sometimes, it doesn't come voluntarily to them. That gives the leaders a tonne of information on how to move forward for themselves as well," she added.

Egon Zehnder is a global management consulting and executive search firm, with more than 2,000 employees in 62 offices and 35 countries.

SPH Brightcove Video
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing spoke at the launch of the SkillsFuture Forum 2022 on July 5. The event, held at the Lifelong Learning Institute, was followed by a panel discussion moderated by The Business Times Digital Editor, Christopher Lim.

SkillsFuture's Mr Tan said it is vital to start developing a curious and self-aware mindset in individuals before they are hired. This can be developed through work attachments and internships provided by institutes of higher learning, he added.

He highlighted the importance of establishing a partnership between SkillsFuture and institutes of higher learning.

"You give the young a sense that the world is much more dynamic and, with workplace changes, you've got to learn that people around you will get feedback, and you have to ask the questions."

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