Despite ongoing issues with ensuring rail reliability, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday the rail industry is a sector that is growing and has opportunities for Singaporeans with an interest in the field.
He pointed to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail between Malaysia and Singapore, and "hundreds and thousands of kilometres" of similar rail projects being built in Asia, as well as China's Belt and Road Initiative, as proof that the industry held rich opportunities. "There are plenty of opportunities and Singaporeans... should try to have a slice,'' he said.
Mr Khaw was responding in Parliament to Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC), who asked if there were enough engineering graduates with rail engineering expertise, and how the Government planned to develop deep engineering expertise in young engineers.
Mr Khaw said the railway industry currently employs more than 6,000 engineers and technicians, and this number will grow by another 1,500 by 2020.
He pointed to the Singapore Rail Academy, set up in February, which will coordinate efforts to grow engineering capabilities in the industry.
On "deep expertise", which is the most valuable currency in the railway industry, the minister said the Government, industry players and unions were developing a framework that sets out industry-wide standards on skills and competencies required in the railway sector.
This Public Transport Skills Framework will also provide the corresponding training courses for acquiring such skills.
Mr Khaw also said that compared with other transport sectors like aviation, the railway industry was "way behind" globally in such areas as predictive maintenance. But this also proves that the industry has room to grow. "If we can, along the way, build up deep expertise in this area, I think it could again create a new sub-industry for Singapore, the way we created the Newater industry," he said.