Road map for precision engineering industry targets 3,000 more jobs for PMETs in new growth areas

Local firm Meiban, where the precision engineering Industry Transformation Map was unveiled on Oct 12, 2016. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A worker in a medical clean room environment at Univac Precision Engineering, a firm which supplies medical components and devices. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade & Industry, unveiled the precision engineering Industry Transformation Map on Wednesday (Oct 12) at local firm Meiban.

The road map is the first for the manufacturing sector, and is led by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

It identifies new growth areas that will create 3,000 jobs for PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) and secure the future in manufacturing.

The industry's contribution to the Singapore economy is expected to grow from S$8.8 billion in 2014 - when the precision engineering industry employed 94,000 workers - to S$14 billion by 2020.

A key strategy of the map is the move to higher value-added activities that will form the foundation for manufacturing in the future.

This will be done by growing complementary sectors such as robotics and additive manufacturing.

Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, Singapore has also set aside S$3.2 billion for research and development in advanced manufacturing and engineering.

The precision engineering road map will implement two key initiatives to encourage innovation.

One involves setting up model digital factories. Manufacturing platforms will be set up in A*Star's Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Remanufacturing & Technology Centre to develop digital technologies for multi-national corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Another is having digital champions such as Meiban. EDB will groom precision engineering firms that are digitalising their factory operations as such champions. Under Meiban's iSmart Factory project, the firm will develop solutions with technology solution partners like PBA and Arcstone.

Mr Iswaran witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Meiban and those partners on Wednesday.

He said: "The digital transformation that Meiban is undertaking is an example of what firms in the precision engineering industry must do, so as to continue to compete and thrive. This is also why we are launching the precision engineering Industry Transformation Map today."

Member of Parliament Melvin Yong, who is also the supervising lead of NTUC's Electronics & precision & machinery engineering cluster, said the union supports the precision industry road map to enable workers to move into future and higher value-added jobs.

"The Government, the unions and companies will need to work even more closely together, especially at the sectoral level, to build up the industry's capabilities, create employment and manage job transitions for our workers," he said in a Facebook post.

While there are good efforts to attract new entrants into the industry, more proactive and dedicated help must be provided to the existing workforce to help them stay ready, stay resilient and stay relevant, said Mr Yong, who was at the Meiban event on Wednesday morning.

He added: "While we restructure, we must also not forget about those who are unable to move into the new jobs. We have to help them transit and remain gainfully employed.

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