New manufacturing courses in pipeline

Topics to cover advanced technologies, with more than 400 workers set to attend sessions

Employers in manufacturing who plan to deepen their workers' skills in advanced technologies will be able to sign them up for a new series of masterclasses, workshops and conferences.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) said yesterday that the topics under the Advanced Manufacturing Series will cover areas ranging from advanced robotics and automation to additive manufacturing to optical and laser engineering.

More than 400 technical managers, engineers, assistant engineers, product designers and technical specialists from both smaller companies and multinational corporations are expected to attend these sessions, which will be rolled out some time this year.

The sessions will be run by five institutes which signed an agreement with the WDA yesterday.

The institutions are: the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre,  A*Star's Institute of High Performance Computing,  Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Centre for Optical and Laser Engineering,  NTU's Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, and  Nanyang Polytechnic.

The WDA will fund up to 70 per cent of the course fees for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and up to 90 per cent if the workers come from small and medium-sized companies.

Most masterclasses will run over a few days.

Demand for the series will be reviewed after the first year to see if the programmes should be continued.

Singapore must keep abreast of global trends such as 3D printing and online connectivity of production chains, said Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education, at the event yesterday.

"Besides investing in advanced manufacturing capabilities... we also need to invest in upskilling our people," she said.

"This will enable our workforce to take advantage of the new and exciting job opportunities in advanced manufacturing."

For example, in remanufacturing for the aerospace industry - which reduces waste by allowing parts to be repaired and reused instead of being replaced - robotics software engineers are needed, said Associate Professor Tan Sze Wee, who is the executive director of the Science and Engineering Research Council at A*Star.

AmpTec Industrial Heating director Ken Teng said that he hopes four of his 14 workers can hone their skills in robotics programming.

His company has developed a robot which is able to perform precision cleaning by shooting streams of dry ice.

"I believe robotics is a future tool of all manufacturing," Mr Teng said.

"It can put our workers into higher-skill positions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'New manufacturing courses in pipeline'. Print Edition | Subscribe