Edwards Lifesciences: Helping Employees Prepare for Future Challenges at the Workplace

More people die of cardiovascular related disease annually than any other causes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2016; that was 31 per cent of all global deaths.

This is where companies like Edwards Lifesciences, an organisation dedicated to in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, come in.

With roots dating back to 1958, Edwards Lifesciences today is a global company with presence in approximately 100 countries and approximately 8,500 employees worldwide.

In Singapore alone, the company employs over 2,000 employees, of which over 500 will be going for Lean Six Sigma training; a process improvement methodology designed to eliminate problems, remove waste and inefficiency, and improve working conditions.

Company Training Committee 

This two-year programme comes after the company, the Chemical Industries Employees’ Union (CIEU) and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) officially signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to implement a Company Training Committee (CTC) to drive training for workers back in May 2019.

According to Edwards Lifesciences Manager for Learning and Development Ms Cheong Wai Kuan, since the CTC implementation, the platform has been enabling Edwards Lifesciences to equip their employees with skills to meet the needs of their businesses today and in the future.

She said: “As we move into Industry 4.0, we will require our employees to pick up digital and future skills, build up adaptability and flexibility mindset, and adopt continuous improvement attitude.

“This will help us to build a more productive and innovative workforce.”

Starting with the Mindset

While many other companies might dive straight into developing their workforce’s technical competency, Edwards Lifesciences decided to embark on the journey to Industry 4.0 with something more intrinsic; a change in mindset.

In October this year, 38 employees attended their in-house Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training programme.  It was the company’s pilot run and they plan to deploy this training to all their frontline professionals and shop floor employees.

Prior to that, the company had one group of key professional employees, involved in driving changes in the organisation, attend a one-day workshop on “Innovation Culture Catalyst and Mindset”.

The four-part course was designed to introduce a set of practical applications for transforming the mindset and strengthening the innovation culture within the company.

Ms Cheong said: “There are many opportunities to eliminate waste and drive productivity on the shop floor.  To be successful, we need to involve our shop floor employees, provide them with the skills and know-how on identifying waste reduction opportunities.”

What Comes After

By 2020, Edwards Lifesciences will embark on their new digital manufacturing system known as MES (Manufacturing Execution System).

Employees involved in production will need to undergo a digital familiarisation programme to help them acquire some basic information technology skills to help to reduce their fear of change when the new system is launched.

Currently working with e2i to identify the right training provider to customise a digital familiarisation training programme, the company is also planning a digital upskilling curriculum for their professional employees.

“As a responsible employer, we want our company and employees to co-own and take a pro-active step together in future-proofing our employees’ current and future career through acquisition of new skills and continuous learning,” said Ms Cheong.

What is a Company Training Committee?

 A company training committee is an initiative implemented at company level between union leaders and company management. Working together, the committee will assess skills development gaps in the company, articulate Worker 4.0 and training requirements for the company, drive company-based training programmes identified in the company’s Worker 4.0 plan, and coordinate feedback for training improvements.

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