Talent is one of ABB’s greatest assets, and the organization attaches much importance to education. With its decades of experience in championing vocational training across the world, ABB recently shared its perspectives and relevance for Singapore with other companies and academia. The master class sought to raise awareness of the benefits, as well as insights into the Swiss educational system, and the role of on-the-job training (OJT) and internships.
Edmund Chua, Vice President of the Power Grids division at ABB in Singapore, started his working career 23 years ago as a draughtsman at ABB and is an example of how talents can grow and succeed in such a system.
Providing perspective on the topic, he said, “The advantage of the vocational system is that it gives everyone the opportunity to pursue a meaningful career, while providing industry with the skills that it needs. It also puts the onus on industry to share responsibility for training and development because, if companies want to ensure they have enough people with the right skills, they have to train them.”
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Singapore, Thomas Kupfer, who was also at the forum, expressed, “I am delighted that ABB is here as a partner in this important topic and as a model of how industry is championing the importance of skills for the future.” He gave the example of ABB Chairman Peter Voser, who spoke last year at the Swiss-Singapore business summit on vocational training, as someone who also started in a vocational training program, and become the chairman of a successful company.
A panel discussion debated topics such as motivations for employers to invest in developing OJT capabilities and the importance of internships and OJT experience in attracting and retaining talents. Joining Edmund were Rajan Arul, the General Manager of Firmenich Singapore, Emanuel Wüthrich, Senior Advisor at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), and Edward Ho, Deputy Principal (Development) at Nanyang Polytechnic.
“This approach has great potential for the workforce of the future because it fosters a collaborative ecosystem, among government, industry and the education sector. Also, by combining education with work and learning on-the-job, the skills of the workforce keep pace with the advances in technology,” shared Edmund, during the discussion.
ABB aims to continue inspiring workplace excellence and creating a culture of lifelong learning. One instance of how the company supports this philosophy is in the founding of a training association in Switzerland which provides apprenticeships for the Swiss machine, electrical and metal industries, that make up the country’s largest export sector. Currently there are 1,100 apprentices enrolled at the center with career paths off to a good start.