UOB expands employee training programme to include data analytics, project management

UOB's "Better U" learning and development programme was first launched in October 2019. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - To better prepare its staff for in-demand jobs in the coming years, United Overseas Bank (UOB) has expanded its employee training programme to include data analytics and project management courses.

Mr Dean Tong, UOB's head of group human resources, said earlier this month that many workers lack data analytics and project management skills, even as these skills are most in demand in today's market, both within and beyond UOB.

"If you look at all the jobs in the financial sector today, about 90 per cent involve some form of data analytics, and this also reflects the fast changing nature of these jobs," said Mr Tong.

UOB's "Better U" learning and development programme was first launched in October 2019. The programme's first level took the form of a 12-week foundational course that focused on five competencies.

The modules aimed to help employees adopt a growth mindset, develop complex problem solving skills, and acquire skills in the fields of digital innovation, human-centred design and data.

About 8,000 of the bank's 26,000 employees have completed the foundational modules, and it expects that about 15,000 would have completed them by the first half of 2021.

This year's expansion is open to employees who have completed the foundational modules and allows them to choose between the data analysis and project management tracks.

Each track has three stages, giving participants the opportunity to learn skills based on their experience and knowledge.

Mr Tong said that while the first stage provides basic training on the two topics, those with some knowledge on data analytics and project management as well as specialists wishing to enhance their knowledge will benefit from the second and third stages respectively.

He added that those who gain enough relevant knowledge through the programme may be allowed to pivot into full-time roles in either area.

Although training employees to be skilful enough to pivot might mean losing them to other firms, Mr Tong said that is a risk UOB is willing to take.

"We are more concerned about employees who stay but may have the wrong skills," he said.

"It is our job to engage and retain employees, and there is no excuse for not developing them because of the risk of losing them."

Mr Tong added that more topics will be added for the second level of the Better U programme, with areas such as cyber security being considered.

Mr Gunawan Zhu, a credit risk analyst in UOB's Business Banking segment under Group Retail, told The Straits Times earlier this week that the foundational modules enabled him to "keep up a positive attitude and to keep learning, especially in this current climate of uncertainty".

He added that the modules have improved his current work, as he now uses data visualisation more frequently to illustrate portfolio trends more effectively to his managers, and that he intends to take up project management in the second level to build up leadership skills.

Separately, UOB announced that it will allow most of its employees to work remotely twice a week after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.

Mr Tong said the move would free employees psychologically from being bound to their office desks, something UOB hoped would allow them to be more creative and productive.

But he emphasised that even with the flexibility, it is still important for employees to meet and collaborate in the office, so that a culture can be built.

"We don't want to lose the togetherness that you're able to build by having people meet and interact," he said.

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