Technology is not all about replacing people

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Imagine this: you are training to be a cleaner, and instead of being handed with cleaning equipment, you are given a pair of virtual reality (VR) goggles. Using these goggles, you can polish your skills – in window cleaning, vacuuming and more. 

This isn’t just an imaginary situation – Rio Goh, CEO of Ministry Holdings, has developed a virtual reality technology aimed at enhancing how vocational training is conducted. 

The goal, according to Rio, is to push out the VR training kit as a “more sustainable means of upscaling workers and hence increasing their wages.” Based on his observations, “Many companies do not invest in training due to fear of the workers moving on, and not turning the investment into good returns for the company.” 

Drawing inspiration from the German model of vocational training, Rio’s team developed the VR training kit, which is on the table for possible expansion plans on a national scale.

We have learned that leveraging on technology for vocational training can reap a host of benefits. Beyond removing the need for cost-heavy equipment, VR training can also aid companies in improving the service provided. “After the training, review videos of the VR simulation and in turn, identify common errors which can improve the quality of our employees’ service.” 

Rio’s staunch belief in upskilling workers is reflected in the management of his own company. “You know, I believe in moving (my workers) around both horizontally and vertically,” Rio shares candidly. The very first cleaning aunty that he hired back in 2012, is still with the company to this day, and now works as a trainer. 

While most employers would easily ask an older worker to retire, we really respect what Rio did by tapping on the expertise of his employees and placing them in roles to help them succeed. With the intention to constantly provide for his team and ensure they remain employable, no wonder he was awarded the Leading CEO award by SHRI in 2018.

To round things off, we asked about his guiding philosophy as an employer. Rio cites a Richard Branson quote as inspiration: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

While technology may seem like a job killer, it doesn’t have to if you possess the right intention just like what Rio did.


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