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Case study: Why Pratt & Whitney has an average staff tenure of 12 years



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Teo Ee Mei, Pratt & Whitney’s regional head of HR, sheds light on how embracing lifelong learning helps the firm build a robust and resilient workforce.

It’s a known fact that Singapore is facing, and feeling, the impact of a rapidly aging population.

By 2020, more than a third of our population will over 50. And by 2050, the national median age is projected to rise to 54 from 40 today – this arguably puts us on the wrong side of the decade where age goes.

An aging population brings about its own set of challenges, chief of which is the shrinking of the workforce. For a nation whose only resource is its people, the consequences are considerably more dire.

This raises the question: how can companies manage an ageing workforce demographic and adapt to the challenges it brings?

Investing in lifelong learning

The key to this, in my opinion, lies in the willingness of organisations to look at the long term by investing in their employees at every stage of their career. By creating a culture of lifelong learning, companies can prepare their workforce for their current and future business needs.

Today, more than half of our 2,000 employees at Pratt & Whitney’s operations island wide are above the age of 40. Of this group, more than 40% are above 50 years of age.

One of the leading factors for our success in effectively integrating older workers into our workforce is by providing equal opportunities for our employees, both young and old, to upgrade their technical and soft skills.

Every year, our employees undergo an average of 25 hours of training to equip them with the necessary skills and certifications for the next stage of their careers.

Every year, our employees undergo an average of 25 hours of training to equip them with the necessary skills and certifications for the next stage of their careers.

In addition, we also offer an Employee Scholar Program that is truly one-of-its kind. The company-sponsored programme allows any employee who has completed one year of tenure with the company to pursue their personal interest by obtaining a degree in any field, whether it is related to the job.

These initiatives exemplifies our belief tin the power of lifelong learning. While these programmes do come with a price tag, our experience thus far have convinced us that the benefits far outweigh the investments.

Providing a supportive environment

Aside from retaining the wealth of experience and expertise that these individuals bring to the table, helping older workers keep pace with changing demands through such programs have aided us in building employee loyalty.

Against a backdrop where workplace loyalty has been on declined, we are proud to buck the trend with our average length of service standing at more than a decade – 12 years to be exact.

Granted, the road to success was not all smooth sailing.

Convincing our employees to fully utilise these tools and programmes at their disposal was a challenge. The main concern raised included how they could balance studies while working full-time, as well as lingering uncertainty over how continuous learning or skills upgrading would benefit them at the tail-end of their careers.

To address these concerns, we took pains to chart their progress and explain to them how these programs will better enable them to grow together with the company.

We also provided a supportive environment, such as allowing greater flexibility on work arrangements to accommodate their training or academic schedules.

To date, we have invested more than $9 million to further our employees’ formal education since 2005, with more than 198 diplomas and degrees earned by our employees in Singapore.

To date, we have invested more than $9 million to further our employees’ formal education since 2005, with more than 198 diplomas and degrees earned by our employees in Singapore.

This number is set to grow, with a further 247 employees are in the midst of completing their Diploma, Bachelors or Masters.

Many may baulk at the level of investment.

To us however, this is more than just a story based on numbers, but rather the investment we make in our people as a way of attracting and retaining a motivated and engaged workforce.



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