Besides being known to the public for providing job placement assistance and having successfully helped over 46,000 individuals since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, NTUC’s e2i has also worked with numerous employers nationwide to provide manpower and skills upgrading initiatives. Businesses that have partnered e2i have benefited from their initiatives focused on areas such as recruitment, job redesign, as well as upskilling/reskilling employees.
Chang Cheng Group, which has been working with e2i since 2015, is a great example of how companies have benefited from partnering with and adopting progressive manpower initiatives. Chang Cheng, which started out as an Economy Rice Stall in 1994, has now grown into a successful group that currently owns over 160 food outlets in Singapore, with its headquarters at 27 Woodlands Link.
How Chang Cheng and e2i have partnered in a win-win recipe for workers:
Low wage and senior workers of Chang Cheng were sent for training through e2i’s Inclusive Growth and Job Redesign programmes to upskill and further improve their technical knowledge. Besides gaining technical knowledge, workers also received a wage increment after completing the training. However, Chang Cheng Group did not stop there as they recognised the importance of investing in their employees. With the help of e2i, the Food, Drinks & Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU), and NTUC’s Industry Training and Transformation team, they went on to develop a clear manpower plan and the training required to prepare their employees for the Worker 4.0 framework.
Today, more than half of Chang Cheng’s total workforce has attended and completed their training by e2i. The training also complemented the workers’ implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP), that will help to automate and simplify operations across an organization and increase operational efficiency and performance. This ERP system will allow monitoring of real-time sales of individual dishes at their economic rice stalls, and smarter procurement of ingredients as a result of having access to useful data.
Besides adopting e2i’s initiatives to train and upskill their employees, Chang Cheng Group has also been actively participating in job fairs organised by e2i. More than three hundred Singaporeans and Permanent Residents have been hired over the past two years as a result of this collaboration.
Visit to Chang Cheng – Introduction to automation process and Bar Wang Pao Fan :
As part of their collaboration efforts, e2i visited Chang Cheng’s Headquarters for a learning journey session and was given a tour of their central production kitchen.
In the past, most of the semi-prepared products used at the food outlets were supplied from the company’s central kitchen. Older workers in the central kitchen were required to order ingredients for food preparation from various suppliers almost every day and manage the daily deliveries as there were no proper facilities for storage. With daily deliveries, older workers had to manually carry delivered goods every day from the unloading bay to the various counter chillers which was time-consuming and physically straining.
With the implementation of the Walk-In Blast Chiller supported by e2i, ordering and delivery of ingredients can be cut down to once a week as there is proper storage available. Older workers will not need to manage daily deliveries which increases productivity as they can focus on food preparation. Goods can now be trolleyed into the walk-in blast chiller from the unloading bay, making the work easier and safer.
In order to accommodate to a diverse group of customers, Chang Cheng’s Halal Food Manufacturing Division, Mewahsedap produces halal ham to cater to the Muslim community. They are Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 certified and aim to provide quality, diversity and ethical choices for everyone to enjoy. NTUC DSG Chee Hong Tat also observed the automated slicing and packing of halal ham, as well as how daily bento meals were sealed, and later sorted by hand everyday by the workers.
Presentation by Mr Ricky Kok, Founder/Executive Chairman, Chang Cheng Group:
During the presentation, Mr Ricky Kok talked about Chang Cheng Group’s history, where he quit school to become an apprentice chef at the age of 15. He swiftly mastered and crafted his own skill and style of Chinese cooking and culinary concepts due to his strong will and determination. After two decades of hard work, Chang Cheng Group became one of the leading F&B groups in Singapore and was able to go through many key milestones since 1994. They have since established various brands such as Chang Cheng Mixed Veg Rice, Rong Kee Roasted Delights, Ming Kitchen Seafood, Chang Cheng Mee Wah Coffeeshop and Bar Wang Pao Fan.
Mr Ricky Kok also mentioned Chang Cheng Group will deepen collaborations with e2i to transform their business digitally through different initiatives. A Train-The-Trainer programme, which is a new ongoing initiative that e2i is embarking with CCG, was also introduced to provide Chang Cheng with the necessary support in coaching and training their future hires.
With e2i’s support, Chang Cheng Group was able to train their workforce to be future-ready and Mr Ricky Kok expressed his gratitude to NTUC DSG Chee Hong Tat.
Lobster Pao Fan arranged by Chang Cheng Group for tasting
During the visit, Chang Cheng prepared a food tasting segment where they showcased their new Brand – Bar Wang Pao Fan. As the F&B industry was adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, many hotel and restaurant chefs were displaced and had few options. Chang Cheng decided to launch their new brand, Bar Wang Pao Fan, and employed these displaced chefs to work on transforming premium cuisines into dishes that can be offered in coffee shops and food courts at an affordable price.
They currently have started one located at Jurong Point and are planning to open four more outlets this year, offering popular menu items such as their Seafood and Boston Lobster Pao Fan.
How e2i hopes that other companies can follow the progressive CCG:
In 2022, e2i has partnered with FindSGJobs Ltd to drive employment and employability initiatives with the goal of impacting “20 Companies, 200 placements, and 2000 training.” Chang Cheng Group seeks more talent as the company expands, while also committing to assisting the community in finding work. The company is one of the first to offer five of its locations as part of the Career Resources Station (CRS), which is a partnership between e2i, FindSGJobs, and a network of partners. The CRS is implemented as “mini job fair” stations in 20 different sites islandwide. FindSGJobs will run the booth, assisting job searchers with career options, job matching, and career coaching, while e2i will discuss the resources available with organisations eager to acquire talent.
Mr Erik Wang, Chang Cheng’s CEO, said, “We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to work with e2i to create job security and skills upgrading for our existing staff and new recruits. The Career Resources Station is another new initiative by e2i to help match promising job opportunities in the retail sector with our local talents. It gives us yet another avenue to reach out to potential employees to educate them on the career opportunities and skills acquisitions for our sector.”
As e2i’s initiatives are created with the purpose of helping both individuals and companies, as well as preparing Singapore’s workforce for the future, they hope that more companies will follow in the footsteps of Chang Cheng and be open to the idea of investing and focusing more on their employees.
Chang Cheng is committed to training 100% of their labour and hopes to continue reducing their reliance on manual labour by about 30%, especially when it comes to food preparation. This way, they will be able to offer better quality jobs such as food technicians and equipment operators. They currently have a “80-20” rule whereby at least 80% of all food preparation and processing goes on in their centralized kitchen, and the remaining 20% will be at their stall front. This allows for higher cost savings from procurement, cold storage and higher production efficiencies, and allows them to reduce food wastage and ensure consistent food quality too.
Ms Caryn Lim, e2i’s CEO, said, “Chang Cheng Group has been working with NTUC’s e2i since 2015 to help their workers increase productivity through job redesign to make work easier, safer and smarter. The company is also the first coffeeshop chain to join the Worker 4.0 framework, working with e2i to map out their training and hiring needs. We urge more companies to prioritise workers in business transformation to realise their full potential. Companies can partner e2i to create and match good jobs, and train employees to acquire new and deeper skills.”