Yvonne Ee, CHRO, Mediacorp, is tackling the issue of skills gap in the workforce head on - from upskilling the workforce, to hiring mid-career professionals, and building a pipeline of industry-ready graduates.
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Industry Insider: Yvonne Ee, Chief Human Resources Officer, Mediacorp
Sector spotlight: Media and broadcasting
Based in: Singapore
The number one talent challenge this sector is facing
One of the top challenges faced by the media and broadcasting ecosystem is the attraction and retention of talent, with skills highly sought after in jobs such as software engineering, app development, cloud computing specialisation and cybersecurity expertise. This is not unique to our sector of course, and is prevalent in other industries as well, especially with the rise in demand for tech and IT talent in Singapore and the region.
As a content creator, Mediacorp is also committed to nurturing creative and production talent. As an organisation, Mediacorp is transforming itself to address challenges brought about by disruptions in the media landscape and pivot to a customer-centric approach of delivering news and entertainment content. With the greater volume and evolving nature of content we have had to deliver, the demand for creative and production talent have also increased.
Developments that are intensifying this challenge
We are well and truly in the age of digitalisation today. For the media industry specifically, what has precipitated the high demand for tech talent has been the sharp growth of a media consumer base that is increasingly technologically savvy.
This is consistent with what we are doing at Mediacorp, as we build on our transformation from a traditional linear broadcaster to a multi-platform, digital-first national media network to meet the changing consumption habits of our audiences. Consumption of our news and entertainment content on digital platforms continues to grow rapidly – even before the onset of the pandemic – especially on our over-the-top digital streaming service meWATCH.
We therefore constantly require skilled talent with strong digital capabilities to support our core business of content creation.
With the onset of the pandemic, the market for talent has rapidly extended beyond the geographical boundaries of a country. Most organisation have better (digitally) enabled infrastructure, and jobs can be done from anywhere in the world as long as there is good network connectivity. As such, talent will be sourced from Singapore based companies as well as companies in the region, further intensifying the competition for good skills.
Best practices: Strategies that have worked in tackling this challenge
We adopt a multi-pronged approach to building our digital capabilities across the organisation.
For existing employees in Mediacorp, we invest in upskilling through organising in-house programmes and workshops to enhance their digital literacy and keep them abreast of the latest developments in the digital economy. These include topics such as digital transformation, AI and blockchain technology – all of which are critical to the present and future of the media industry.
On the talent acquisition front, we bring in fresh blood to augment our digital products & technology, and consumer insights & analytics teams, for instance. At the same time, we also hire mid-career professionals with the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to contribute to our workforce.
We complement this approach by building a strong pipeline of industry-ready graduates with relevant skills to join Mediacorp, as well as the broader media ecosystem.
Firstly, we offer internships, traineeships (via the SGUnited Traineeships Programme) and scholarships to undergraduates, which allows us to groom and invest in them time and resources to build their professional competencies as well as soft skills.
In addition, Mediacorp works closely with institutes of higher learning (IHLs) to develop the media industry, nurture the next generation of talent and position itself as the employer of choice in the media space. Through various strategic partnerships forged with IHLs over the years, we are able to share our first-hand industry knowledge and offer students opportunities to put what they learn in the classroom into practice.
The next big priority for HR professionals in this sector
It is important that we continue to invest time and effort in upskilling our people, focusing on a combination of both technical and soft skills.
Many firms grapple with having to strike a balance between building, buying, and borrowing talent as a means of addressing the skills gaps among employees. Each strategy has its own pros and cons.
For example, while buying talent usually yields the quickest results, building talent provides a longer runway for organisations to invest in their employees and inculcate in them the values which they believe in.
Adaptive skills are also increasingly important as we cultivate a workforce with the ability to learn, adopt new perspectives and grow. This is a mindset needed to cultivate mental flexibility as we head into an era of uncertainty and change.
In addition to competencies and skills, the other priority for HR professionals is to create positive employee experiences and that would be a key differentiator in building strong employee engagement.
How CHROs are proactively preparing for the future workplace
The pandemic has ignited spirited debates about remote working and what the right model should be for businesses going forward. This will be an ongoing conversation as we transition towards a “new normal”, and as HR professionals, we need to be able to respond to both organisation as well as employee needs and formulate effective solutions.
For us at Mediacorp, we will continue investing in our staff through building their knowledge and capabilities to prepare them for the road ahead. We will also push through with our strategy of partnering educational institutes to develop a sustainable pipeline of new media professionals with industry-relevant skills.
In the workplace, we will work towards a hybrid work arrangement that is adaptable to the different work requirements and employee needs across the organisation, and also focus on building a strong culture to keep Team Mediacorp engaged with a shared purpose and set of values.
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