Corporate training now goes beyond product knowledge, skill-building and leadership boot camps. Some big corporations are going further, with full educational facilities that run year-round programmes. Others engage leading institutes to deliver customised courses.

Singapore hopes to be a hub for research and teaching institutions for the world, and the Economic Development Board (EDB) is spearheading the strategy. “The Leadership Initiatives, Networks and Knowledge (LINK) initiative is part of our ‘Home for Talent’ efforts. Through LINK, Singapore aims to bring together the demand and supply for talent development needs,” says an EDB spokesperson.

“Supply-side players include leading business schools and professional services firms, while demand-side players include corporate universities and talent control towers of sophisticated companies at the forefront of HR practices, looking to better manage and develop their talent so as to drive their business strategy in Asia and beyond.”

Singapore is home to corporate training facilities such as Unilever’s Four Acres Singapore and the regional campus of Sony University. BASF recently announced plans to establish its own regional training facility in the city. Nepal Hill, in Singapore’s one-north business park, is a cluster of 16 black and white, historic colonial bungalows being converted to corporate and commercial business schools. The massive project is managed by JTC Corporation.

Corporate universities
Four Acres Singapore (right) is Unilever’s first global leadership development centre outside the UK. At the official opening of the US$65 million campus in Nepal Hill on June 29, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “The launch of Four Acres Singapore provides the opportunity to take leadership development – in the service of both Unilever and the communities where we operate – to a whole new level.”

The facility will deliver more than half of Unilever’s global leadership development programmes as part of a single, fully global curriculum, with about 900 attendees annually. Unilever’s Partner to Win Supplier Summit 2013 convened in Singapore on June 28, just before the official opening of Four Acres Singapore.

In its first time being held outside of London, the conference drew 350 participants. UBS launched the regional campus of its UBS Business University at the historic Command House in Bukit Timah in 2007 as part of its commitment to nurture and build the talent pool in Singapore and Asia.

Moira Roberts, head of HR and talent for Asia Pacific at UBS, says: “The campus provides ongoing training and development for employees in the Asia Pacific region. All staff have access to a diverse platform of courses ranging from leadership and talent development, advisory and sales, finance and risk, legal and compliance and professional development.”

The non-residential university delivers comprehensive curricula for client-facing staff, with certification programmes from diploma to master’s levels. Since its launch, the university has delivered approximately 24,000 training days and 2,000 training events.

Business schools
Insead launched its 19,000 sqm Asia campus (left) in Singapore in 2000.Mary Kwan, Insead’s regional director of executive education, says: “We are now working with close to 50 different Asia-based organisations to develop and deliver tailor-made corporate programmes, from general management to specific areas like strategy, leadership or innovation.” Partner organisations include conglomerates, local companies, MNCs and government organisations.

Malaysian bank CIMB engaged Insead to co-develop a programme to accelerate its Asean integration. Hamidah Naziadin, CIMB’s head of group corporate resources, says: “The challenge was in bringing together people of different nationalities, breaking down barriers and leveraging strengths. The Insead programme helped us prepare our talent for demanding roles.”

Essec Asia Pacific will triple in capacity when its new five-storey building in Nepal Hill opens in 2015. It will offer a wider range of programmes that offer students both global and Asian perspectives. The Essec International Forum for more than 100 senior leaders from MNCs, governments and other large organisations coincided with the new campus’s groundbreaking ceremony on February 26.