Photo above: One of the over 30 R.E.A.L Kids centre
By JACK CHUA
For 30 years, R.E.A.L Education Group has earned a reputation for being one of the top providers of premium education programmes.
Starting off humbly in a rented bungalow with 40 students during the mid-80s, R.E.A.L has developed into Malaysia’s largest integrated education service provider that caters to children and young adults.
R.E.A.L currently runs the R.E.A.L Kids chain of preschools, R.E.A.L Schools that offer both international and national syllabi, as well as Cambridge English For Life – a leading provider of accredited English language programmes.
In addition to its commitment to providing top-notch education to various communities, R.E.A.L also prides itself for being one of the nation’s best companies to work for.
R.E.A.L has garnered silver medals in two categories — namely, the ‘Employer of Choice Award’ and the ‘HR Leader of the Year Award’ — for the 2015 Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management (MIHRM) Awards.
Sound leadership and R.E.A.L values
R.E.A.L’s acronym — Results Enhancing through Active Learning — aptly summarisesits philosophy of developing well-rounded individuals that exemplify its five core values—Character, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity.
Part of R.E.A.L’s secret to success as one of Malaysia’s most attractive employers is its HR leadership that cultivates good character, being proactive and passionate towards furthering the company’s vision, mission and goals. Equally crucial for HR leaders are soft skills such as being good listeners, maintaining harmonious relationships and becoming good role models that can ‘walk the talk’.
R.E.A.L opportunities for staff development
In a recent interview, Kenny Sim, Vice President of Group Corporate Resources at R.E.A.L, shares his insights on R.E.A.L’s success in the realm of human resource development.
With regards to the greatest challenge faced by employers in moulding a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, Sim stressed that it is vital to focus on the unique needs and gaps of each individual and to subsequently fulfill these needs, both on a personal and career level.
To accomplish this, R.E.A.L invests substantially on identifying and measuring individual gaps, designing staff development programmes to close these gaps, and encouraging employees to be deeply involved in their own career progression.
He says that R.E.A.L uses a two-pronged approach of improving rewards in order to stay competitive while espousing a healthy work-life balance for all.
The ‘4R’ and R.E.A.L learning hub
Although R.E.A.L currently has some of the most passionate, experienced and dedicated local teachers, Sim believes that continuous training and development is essential to produce teachers that are able to meet the high expectations of the industry.
As testament to the company’s commitment to personal growth, R.E.A.L Education Group and in particular its Human Capital Centre (HCC), are steadfastly driven by the ‘4R’ model –namely Recruit, Retrain, Reward and Retain.
Placing emphasis on ‘Retrain’, R.E.A.L offers a plethora of widely-recognised training programmes that develop pedagogical competencies, leadership skills and soft skills for staff of all levels —from novices to senior managers—to benefit from.
To better achieve this aim, the ‘R.E.A.L Learning Hub’ has been established to be the heart of its research and development in terms of 21st century teaching and pedagogy – further affirming R.E.A.L’s unwavering commitment towards enhancing and advancing its human capital.
Elevating teaching as a noble profession
Sims laments that although the demand for better education has skyrocketed in recent years—as exemplified by the sprouting of private and international schools in Malaysia — too little effort has been put into encouraging the younger generation to choose teaching as a career pathway.
To tackle this issue, it is R.E.A.L’s top priority to attract and retain educators from the ‘Gen Y’ cohort by, among other things, providing practicum and internship openings that present graduates with rewarding opportunities to penetrate the industry. This is in line with the government’s effort to raise the standard of education in the country by making teaching a more professional, highly-regarded and appealing profession for current and future generations.
In his concluding remarks, Sim stresses the urgency of having a constant stream of competent and motivated talent to sustain the growth of the expanding organisation. It is the enthusiasm to nurture the talent pool that has given R.E.A.L the competitive edge in the industry for over a generation.