Singapore

SkillsFuture Fellowship winner is passionate about lifelong learning

Mr Michael Teh Hock Beng, 66, the managing director of Nature Landscapes, has been in the horticulture industry for 40 years.

Yesterday, the advocate of lifelong learning got a SkillsFuture Fellowship Award, while his company got a SkillsFuture Employer Award.

"Lifelong learning is truly what it means - life, long. You need to just tell yourself that you cannot stop learning. Otherwise, you will become a relic of the past," he said.

Mr Teh is now keen to enrol in two programmes: an arborist programme to be certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the certified practising horticulturist programme.

Both are joint initiatives by ISA and the Australian Institute of Horticulture respectively with the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, a division of the National Parks Board.

Mr Teh said he wanted to enrol in them to be a "responsible practitioner" and to provide a good example to his colleagues that you are "never too old to learn".

He has a degree in estate management from the National University of Singapore but joined horticulture as he was inspired by his mother's love for gardening and his own interest in plants.

He set up Nature Landscapes in 1981 with six employees. It employs over 500 people today.

Mr Teh and Ms Jacqueline Allan, 53, an executive director at Nature Landscapes, developed an exclusive training curriculum for their employees with the intention of becoming a premium landscape company.

The curriculum, which was revised in 2017, involves on-the-job training, learning from fellow colleagues and "off-the-shelf" courses in things such as soft skills.

Said Mr Teh of the importance of lifelong learning in his field: "If you look around at what Singapore has done today, we would not have achieved all this without having the technical abilities to become a garden city.

"All this does take skills, technology and knowledge." - THE STRAITS TIMES

Employment