Engineer eases into new career with six-month conversion programme

Mr Gregory Chua with his daughter Erica. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GREGORY CHUA

SINGAPORE - After 4½ years as a research associate specialising in 3D printing, Mr Gregory Chua decided it was time for a career change.

Last month, the 32-year-old was introduced to local precision engineering firm 3D Metalforge and landed a job at the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) as a senior additive manufacturing engineer.

To help him ease into his new role, the company enrolled him in a professional conversion programme for advanced manufacturing engineers to equip him with the technical skills needed.

The programme, which was introduced by Workforce Singapore (WSG) in 2017 and is administered by the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association, equips participants with skills in areas such as metal-based additive manufacturing, automated system design, Internet of Things management and manufacturing technology.

The six-month programme comprises both classroom and on-the-job training.

Mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) may go through the programme after being hired by participating companies. Existing PMET employees who are at risk of being laid off may also undergo the programme so that they can be redeployed to take up new or enhanced roles in the same company.

WSG provides up to 70 per cent of funding support for the monthly salaries of Singaporean and permanent resident employees under the age of 40 for the duration of the programme, capped at $4,000 a month. The support increases to up to 90 per cent for employees aged 40 and above.

Mr Chua said the programme so far has been useful. "By and large, it will help me cover all the skills gaps," he added. While his new job is in the same field of 3D printing, it is still a significant transition.

"There is more application involved compared with the safe comfort zone of academia. I think it is very exciting," said Mr Chua, who has a master's in mechanical engineering.

Yesterday, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on a visit to 3D Metalforge that WSG's job matching services have helped such SMEs in their hiring efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, contributing to the rise in resident employment in this year's third quarter.

At the same time, retrenchments continued to climb, albeit at a slower pace, because not all companies have been able to expand their operations like 3D Metalforge, said Mrs Teo.

"Retrenchments are something that we will have to watch... because the impact of Covid-19 is still being felt," she added.

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