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Case study: How NEC launched a programme to develop young graduates

Providing mentorship to job rotation opportunities, NEC has recruited its first batch of six graduate trainees from its new programme. Jonathan Tan, vice president for regional HR of NEC APAC, as well as head of HR for Singapore, shares his valuable learning.

Singapore-based NEC Asia Pacific is the regional headquarters for NEC Corporation. As a leading ICT provider, NEC APAC constantly looks to find not only innovative tech-based solutions but also an eye on the company’s current and future business needs.

In this regard, NEC APAC Management has implemented an initiative called ‘NEC Talent Development Programme’ (TDP), launched in partnership with Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

Aimed to attract young graduates to join NEC so as to build a future talent pipeline, the identified talent will go through an accelerated career path to enable them to reach management level for company’s succession planning.

For these talent recruitment drives, NEC is looking to partner institutions of higher learning such as National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and Singapore Institute of Technology.

Gaining access to untapped talent

The TDP is a company-wide initiative which involves active participation from the senior management as well as the HR team. During the planning stages, we engage with stakeholders including the senior management, to identify a list of mentors and department heads from the corporate support functions to participate. Trainees will be rotated across our business units to gain different skill sets and exposure to the various job environments.

In addition, they will spend some time at our support functions like HR, finance, marketing, etc. to help them to gain an overview of our organisation and to build their network. Mentors are identified by the respective business heads to develop a structured training programme in discussion with the trainee. The programme also includes a three-month overseas assignment at one of our offices within Asia or Oceania for regional exposure.

In order to create our presence in the educational institutions, we hold on-campus recruitment activities and network with the deans and career advisors. In October 2016, we organised a career fair with NUS complete with interactive sessions and networking with the current students as well as alumni from the NUS School of Computing and Faculty of Engineering.

We engaged with the senior management to identify a list of mentors and department heads from the corporate support functions to participate.
We also held a career fair at NTU recently in March, where we attracted more than 100 students from Electronics, Electrical Engineering (EEE) Faculty to speak with us. A similar event was held at SUTD in May where we held face-to-face interviews with the students.

Challenges in logging in

As this was the first time that NEC ran a TDP, there were many unknown aspects such as the talent acquisition process, selection criteria, suitability of training plans provided, type of rotation plans, identification of dedicated mentors, etc.

Through intensive research, we managed to develop the most suitable programme is in line with the company’s vision and core values.

Communication is the key to overcome all the concerns and challenges raised. Thus, we make it a point to hold meetings regularly with all stakeholders to manage expectations and establish a common understanding.

Further, EDB has been providing great support to NEC APAC to drive the programme, including co-funding support to build our future talent pipeline.

Successful application of the TDP

By placing graduates in different departments, it allowed them to bring in fresh ideas and provide valuable suggestions to help us improve the organisation as a whole.

In today’s fast moving business world, there are always new technologies and ways to do business and graduates are often at the forefront of these new developments. By engaging in open dialogue with these graduates, we provide a platform for them to express themselves and voice their concerns. In return, for NEC this leads to continuous improvement and cultivation of a learning culture.

There were many unknown aspects such as the selection criteria, suitability of training plans, type of rotation, identification of dedicated mentors. etc.
In fact, NEC has recruited the first batch of six graduate trainees in January 2017. Till date, 11 trainees have been hired, with another 15 more to join within the next two years.

From the feedback collected so far, these graduates are very energetic and eager for knowledge and undertake more responsibilities.

While these get proper guidance from our dedicated mentors and go through structured training programme, it helps our experience staff as well - they have to examine and rethink how they currently do things. Being a mentor is also a good way of cultivating management skills and provides a leadership role in grooming talent. Above all, it aims to increase employee engagement and staff satisfaction for both the mentor as well as the trainee.

Along the way, we are proud to be the pioneer batch of Human Capital Partners (HCP) to receive the HCP Mark from Minister Lim Swee Say early this year. As part of the HCP, we are able to better drive our recruitment efforts and create awareness in the marketplace.

We have also signed the Employers’ Pledge to show our commitment to promote fair and progressive employment practices and tapped on TAFEP’s various resources/publications to help us implement these practices. We will continue to work with TAFEP to leverage on their resources to build talent capabilities across leaders in NEC.

Photo / Provided

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