OCBC bank is looking to have the right workforce to complement its plan to accelerate digital transformation under its three-year corporate strategy aimed to drive growth and reinforce core strengths.
Lim Khiang Tong, OCBC Bank’s Group chief operating officer, said having the right workforce, “not only in terms of size but quality as well” was important.
OCBC is looking to hire 1500 new technology staff over the next three years, a mix of application developers, cyber security experts, blockchain specialists and data scientists.
“The majority of these positions will be based in Singapore, with the rest in our overseas entities in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Lim said.
However, Lim added that this is “only one part of our efforts to drive transformation for operational and business excellence”.
The bank has increased its investment in technology staff training and development over the past five years.
“Compared to 2018, our committed investment in 2022 is seven times higher,” Lim said.
“This year, we have availed a new e-learning platform where our tech colleagues have access to over 2000 courses to be kept updated with new skills in software development, cloud computing, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).”
But more broadly than that, OCBC is also hoping to uplift its entire workforce by offering them the chance to develop more technology-related skillsets.
“We have rolled out a number of programs aimed at reskilling and upskilling our employees in the area of digital proficiency,” Lim said.
Giving some examples, Lim said the bank launched the OCBC Future Smart Programme in 2018 to train and develop the digital skills “of all of our employees globally over the period of three years (2018 – 2020) with an investment of S$20 million”.
“It was the largest-scale and most ambitious digital transformation initiative by a Singapore bank,” he said.
A total of 1900 programs were developed and offered to employees, with more than 178,000 completions.
Over 23,000 employees achieved a higher level of digital proficiency as a result.
Among the programs rolled out were data and cyber security "certification pathways", which provided the participants with in-depth training in data analytics and cyber security respectively over 18 months, with weekly lessons.
“The data certification pathway is accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance, the national accreditation body for the financial industry in Singapore and more than 200 staff who have completed both pathways since,” Lim said.
Job rotation opportunities are also given to the employees so that they get exposure to other areas outside of what they had originally joined the bank for, Lim said.
“This has proven to be successful in staff retention,” he added.
Lim cited the example of Lee Yen Pheng, who is group head of projects and platform solutions at OCBC Bank.
“She joined OCBC as an auditor in 2001, dabbled in operations before becoming one of the pioneer employees to transit to a tech role in 2011 – all through on-the-job training,” he said.
Lim added that the bank is “committed to nurturing tech talents of the future and contributing to Singapore’s talent pipeline”.
In March this year, the bank “welcomed its first batch of about 20 third-year students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who will be doing a one-year internship with us”.
“These IT diploma students have ample time to deepen their understanding of the financial sector, develop industry-current tech skills, and amass real-world work experience early, all of which will ready them for the workplace upon graduation,” Lim said.
In 2019, the bank launched a postgraduate AI scholarship, the first to be offered by a Singapore company and the first by any bank in Asia, he added.