In a welcome sign in these trying times, up to 100 people looking to move to the agri-tech sector in a mid-career switch can benefit from a new career conversion programme (CCP) over the next two years. The programme, rolled out by Workforce Singapore, the Singapore Food Agency and Republic Polytechnic, is in line with the push to equip workers with relevant skills so that they can benefit from the green economy. The approach is an eminently sensible one. Not only is the green economy tied intrinsically to Singapore's sustainability goals, but the economic prospects are also good. The country aims to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030. The agri-tech sector currently employs around 2,000 workers. By 2030, it is projected, about 4,700 new and redesigned jobs would be created. Indeed, of these, about 70 per cent are expected to be filled by skilled workers and professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). While the figure of 100 people might appear small, the CCP will obviously be expanded if there is high demand.
There are good reasons for believing that the wind is in the sails of agricultural technology. That the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted food supply chains across the world is a reminder that no nation can take its food security for granted. Agri-tech uses modern technology to increase production yield, improve food quality, and promote sustainability in the agri-food value chain. It is a growth sector. It needs agronomists, produce specialists and farm managers, roles that require workers to be competent in areas such as science, infocomm technology, engineering and mathematics.