With the recent push for the increased use of electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore, we need to look closely at the manpower issues facing the motor industry as a whole.
The current workforce of around 10,000 to 14,000 technicians and service advisers is facing a crunch when it comes to the upgrading of skills to diagnose, maintain and repair EVs.
Singaporeans and permanent residents make up a very small proportion of workshop staff. Courses to upgrade the skills of workers to work with EVs can be very expensive - up to more than $2,000 depending on the level of competency desired.
Foreign workers need to pay full fees as they do not get the kind of subsidies available to Singapore residents to offset the training cost.
Such a hefty investment is not something that small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners can afford.
The industry's bottom line has been further affected by the entry of start-up car workshops that charge very low rates to capture market share. This has made it difficult for the industry to earn higher revenue and uplift itself to attract young Singaporeans.
Having a workforce of licensed and certified automotive technicians would help the industry consolidate, weeding out the weaker players and forming a smaller but highly profitable pool of competent workshops.
SMEs would then be able to offer higher wages, which would encourage Singaporeans to consider a career in the automotive trade as trained and licensed technicians.
Nicholas Wong Chee Voon
Singapore Motor Workshop Association