Island is 'a living classroom'

Island is 'a living classroom'
Mr Mike Barclay, chief executive officer of the Sentosa Leisure Group, says Sentosa island is a "living classroom".

To visitors, Sentosa is an island playground with loads of activities and entertainment to choose from.

But for those working on the island, Sentosa is a "living classroom", said Mr Mike Barclay, chief executive of Sentosa Leisure Group.

Employees can start out working in any one of the 200 attractions, retail or food and beverage outlets, and progress to others as they gain experience and new skills.

"As our employees hone their skills in their areas of interest, we want to provide them with further growth opportunities that enable them to harness best industry practices and develop their professional competencies," he said.

This, coupled with the philosophy of employing people with the right attitude for the job, helped the leisure company combat the current labour crunch.

For example, when recruiting front-line workers for the recently opened children's water playground, Port of Lost Wonder, interviewees were put in a room with children to see how they interacted with the young ones.

Mr David Goh, senior divisional director of leisure management, said the company's approach has kept attrition among the 1,300-strong staff at about 15 per cent now, down from 20 per cent in 2008. The attrition rate in other service-oriented industries - such as food and beverage, and tourism - is between 30 per cent and 60 per cent.

More than 90 per cent of Sentosa's employees are locals.

"We are quite proud of our abilities to retain talent," said Mr Goh.

He added that following the opening of the two integrated resorts in 2010, a rethink of the company's recruitment and retention strategy was necessary as there was an increased demand for frontline service workers.

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