The opening of a new manufacturing plant in Ang Mo Kio by high-end optical packaging firm Heptagon, encapsulates the high quality processes, products and jobs Singapore aspires to, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.
"It's about (developing) the most advanced manufacturing processes, R&D-driven production of transformational products, and the creation of high quality jobs," said Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.
Heptagon, acquired by semiconductor giant AMS last year, will spend $500 million over two years on its new 300,000 sq ft facility, as well as on other investments such as state-of-the-art technologies, equipment and developing its staff.
This investment will be the largest in the precision engineering industry over the last decade here.
Mr Alexander Everke, AMS chief executive, said: "Thanks to Singapore's pro-business environment, highly skilled workforce and geographical location, the decision to make this significant investment was straightforward."
The new facility will primarily focus on the packaging of optical products, an important but complex procedure in the manufacturing process, and the addition and positioning of filters, which is essential to create colour sensors.
Sensor solutions developed by Heptagon and AMS capture and analyse light, colour, images and sound to measure minuscule changes in specific parameters. They can be found in products such as smartphones, mobile devices, automobiles and industrial automation.
Mr Tharman also noted that Heptagon's new facility is an example of how the industry and jobs are going to be transformed together as products become more sophisticated. "The business of precision engineering is changing... a lot of the jobs will also be conducted not in the workshops of yesteryear but in laboratory-like facilities or highly automated clean rooms," he said.
As jobs in the precision engineering industry evolve, companies and the Government will need to work together to help workers adjust to this transformation, particularly through the reskilling of the workforce, Mr Tharman added.
To this end, Heptagon has partnered Workforce Singapore to develop two Professional Conversion Programmes for assistant engineers and component original equipment manufacturer engineers. Heptagon expects the six-month programmes, which comprise at least three classroom training modules and on-the-job training, to train around 160 locals over the course of two years.