15,000 workers needed in rail sector by 2030: Khaw Boon Wan

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan tours the Systems Engineering Lab at the official launch of the Singapore Rail Academy.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan tours the Systems Engineering Lab at the official launch of the Singapore Rail Academy.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan tours the Systems Engineering Lab at the official launch of the Singapore Rail Academy.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The manpower needs of the rail sector here will need to grow to 15,000 by 2030, as Singapore expands its MRT network and works to improve rail reliability, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (Feb 23).

Speaking at the launch of the Singapore Rail Academy (SGRA) at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) at Dover Drive, he added: "But I suspect we will need more than that."

About 10,000 are currently employed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), as well as rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit, in the fields of engineering, operations and maintenance.

"This makes the rail industry a growth industry, whose employment prospects are almost guaranteed in the next decade," said Mr Khaw.

Mr Khaw also spoke about the challenges faced by engineers in building Singapore's rail network.

By 2030, the network will be 360km long, reaching a rail density that is similar to London and New York today. But the two cities built their current rail networks over 100 years while Singapore is building its network in less than half that time.

He said that even as the network expands, the operators are working hard to improve the reliability of the rail system to become among the best in the world.

To reach the two goals of rail expansion and rail reliability, Singapore has to grow its pool of engineering expertise, he said.

He noted that the role of rail engineers has become more complex over the years, and that the academy will help train a new generation of rail engineers.

The academy will allow aspiring engineers and technicians to upgrade and re-skill themselves to join the rail industry. It will also serve as a research and development centre for rail engineering.

To facilitate the academy's work, the LTA signed two agreements on Thursday. The first, with the Employment and Employability Institute, aims to attract, develop and retain the local rail industry workforce.

The second, with SIT and the International Council on Systems Engineering, aims to provide pre-employment training as well as continuing education and training programmes in systems engineering.

The academy has also started to develop a programme to help new and mid-career entrants to the industry develop their technical skills and expose them to functional areas such as design and planning.

Thirty engineers from LTA, SMRT and SBS Transit attended a three-day core module in January.