PMETs switching to manufacturing will get more help

About 900 job seekers visited the one-day career fair for the manufacturing sector yesterday at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, where 31 firms were offering more than 900 jobs.
About 900 job seekers visited the one-day career fair for the manufacturing sector yesterday at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, where 31 firms were offering more than 900 jobs.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

More help is on the way for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) looking for jobs in manufacturing.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday launched eight new professional conversion programmes (PCPs) to help workers switch to jobs in a new industry by arming them with the relevant skills, through training and attachments.

These PCPs cover the precision engineering industry for entry and mid-level jobs, and are the latest in a series of initiatives to help workers displaced by the economic downturn and restructuring.

Those interested can visit the Workforce Singapore website and contact the respective programme partners to apply.

Mr Lim also launched a one-day career fair for the manufacturing sector at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (e2i), where 31 companies were looking to fill more than 900 jobs.

  • MANUFACTURING SECTOR

  • 20%

    Share of the economy

  • 245k

    Number of local workers employed

More than 100 of these positions were "Industry 4.0" or advanced manufacturing roles such as engineers in the fields of process integration, robotic application and technology development.

Speaking at the event, Mr Lim said manufacturing is one of the engines of economic growth and job creation for Singapore.

Although total employment in the sector has plunged, with 42,000 fewer jobs in the last three years, more than 70 per cent of those jobs were held by foreign work permit holders, he noted.

"Manufacturing continues to offer many good jobs and good career progression for local workers," he said.

The sector, which makes up one-fifth of the economy, employs about 245,000 local workers.

For these workers, the share of PMET jobs in manufacturing has been climbing steadily, and stands at more than 62 per cent now.

The sector has seen a resurgence: factory output jumped 10.2 per cent in March against the same month last year, driven mainly by the electronics cluster, where output swelled 37.7 per cent. The precision engineering cluster expanded by 12.8 per cent.

During the event, Mr Lim also rolled out the SkillsFuture career adviser programme, which will see 75 veterans in manufacturing get on board to give advice to job seekers at job fairs or events.

Ms Valerie Lee, a senior human resource director with semiconductor company UCT, is one of the career coaches.

She told reporters it is important for job seekers to have an open mind about working in manufacturing. "Many think it's hard work, that they have to work shifts, and will be stuck in a factory."

But the job is not static, she said, as there are opportunities to move into different areas of a company's operations, for example, from production to logistics.

"If the organisation has a global presence, there will also be chances to go abroad," she added.

Mr Lim Kok Kiang, assistant managing director of the Economic Development Board, said advanced manufacturing will give rise to new jobs such as industrial data analysts, robot coordinators and industrial solution architects.

But, he added, workers need to be "strong and nimble" and continually upgrade their skills to capitalise on these new opportunities.

Technician M. Subbian, 46, hopes to switch from the oil and gas sector, where he now works, to advanced manufacturing.

"Oil and gas is not doing very well now; I want to upgrade my skills and switch to a different sector... I'm hoping I can find a job as a technical specialist," he said, adding that a wide range of jobs were on -offer at the fair.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'PMETs switching to manufacturing will get more help'. Print Edition | Subscribe