60% to 70% of jobs created by foreign investment for PMETs: EDB

Above: Ms Khairunnisa Zulkifli, a manufacturing senior engineer at Micron, has benefited from her company's investment commitment here. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR Left: Former engineer Jimmy Hong, now a biotechnologist at Novartis, undertook a one-year
Above: Former engineer Jimmy Hong, now a biotechnologist at Novartis, undertook a one-year programme for the biologics manufacturing industry to learn new skills after his former company closed here. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Above: Ms Khairunnisa Zulkifli, a manufacturing senior engineer at Micron, has benefited from her company's investment commitment here. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR Left: Former engineer Jimmy Hong, now a biotechnologist at Novartis, undertook a one-year
Above: Ms Khairunnisa Zulkifli, a manufacturing senior engineer at Micron, has benefited from her company's investment commitment here. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Around 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the jobs created by the foreign investment attracted here last year will be for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), said Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Beh Swan Gin.

In EDB's year-in-review briefing yesterday, he said that the other roles will be well-paying "rank and file" positions.

EDB expects 32,814 jobs will stem from the $15.2 billion worth of investment commitments made last year - an amount that easily exceeds official forecasts.

Around half of these positions will be in the digital economy, utilising technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

But Dr Beh said that not all of these digital jobs will require advanced skills; some could be filled by people with traditional backgrounds who are comfortable in the digital domain.

Around 29 per cent of the total expected jobs will be in manufacturing and production roles.

EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong said at the same brie-fing: "The kind of job landscape we are creating in Singapore is... becoming more diverse and this brings... more opportunities for Singaporeans and creates resilience in our economy."

He noted how the Professional Conversion Programme, which helps professionals learn new skills to move into new careers, has been effective, especially in the manufacturing industry, as it gives workers with varied levels of education "practical, technical skills" that can be used in the sector.

Former engineer Jimmy Hong, 51, undertook the one-year programme for the biologics manufacturing industry after his former employer closed its operations in Singapore.

 
 
 

He is now responsible for developing and updating standard operating procedures and other operations as a biotechnologist at Novartis.

Sizeable spending commitments from large manufacturers were key to Singapore's strong investment figures last year, with chipmaker Micron among those which are expanding their presence here.

Ms Khairunnisa Zulkifli, 27, a manufacturing senior engineer at Micron, has benefited from the firm's commitment to Singapore.

She picked up macro-programming skills on her own after a colleague introduced her to the basics about 18 months after she joined the company in 2015.

Her skills have since enabled her to extract and consolidate large data sets more efficiently - a task that used to take more than an hour now takes less than 20 seconds, she said. It has also been useful in reducing human error in some areas, Ms Khairunnisa added.

Ms Tan Lee Sar, senior director of human resources, talent and organisation development at manufacturer Applied Materials South East Asia, said digitalisation initiatives have come in the form of real-time data on the shop floor.

These include predicting when defects may occur in the manufacturing process and taking steps to pre-empt them. "It increases our ability to produce faster and more efficiently," Ms Tan said.

Mr Chng said that while it would be very easy for EDB to bring in the "highest value-added jobs that pay the best" - likely meaning a high concentration of finance and programming posts - its focus is on creating positions at different levels to cater to the younger generation and older workers.

"We have to be conscious that not everyone can get (these jobs), and not everyone is a programmer," he noted.

"What we need is a diverse field of jobs spanning multiple, different industries... and that creates some resilience (in our economy) as industries ebb and flow."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2020, with the headline '60% to 70% of jobs created by foreign investment for PMETs: EDB'. Print Edition | Subscribe