Senior geotechnical engineer Gavin Chan, 31, is all too familiar with having to go "below the surface" in his job. He specialises in engineering works that have to do with MRT lines and sewer systems.
After attending a one-year training programme last year, he said he can now also scratch beneath the surface of his speciality, with a broader range of skills he picked up from the Young Engineers Leadership Programme. It has exposed him to other fields like patent law, soft skills like negotiation, and other engineering specialities.
"It's made me more business-minded. So, if I progress into a business development role, I could go out to find new frontiers for the company and new technology to bring back to Singapore," said Mr Chan, who works at CPG Consultants.
He was among 138 engineers graduating yesterday from the programme, which is organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES).
Another 24 senior engineers also graduated yesterday from the Advanced Engineers Leadership Programme, held from August to October last year. They picked up leadership and innovation skills and also had one-to-one mentorship sessions with industry leaders.
IES president Edwin Khew said at the graduation ceremony at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre in Jurong that the programmes are part of an industrywide career development plan to help engineers acquire the necessary skills to move up the career ladder and to encourage others to join the profession.
The job is sometimes seen as low-paying and boring.
Labour chief Chan Chun Sing said having broader skillsets, such as in marketing and communication, will help engineers become more competitive globally. "If our engineers have the deep domain expertise and the adjacent skillsets, then it's much harder for people to take away our jobs, and it also puts us in a much better position to compete with the rest of the world," he said.
Mr Chan, who is secretary-general of NTUC, also hoped engineers can inspire others to become engineers by talking about their role in helping Singapore overcome challenges, such as countering cyber terrorism or keeping lifts safe if buildings were to go up to 100 storeys high.
Airbus Group Innovations Singapore operations head David Woon, 42, who completed the advanced programme, said he enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with engineers from other companies. His team of five worked on a project to find a more efficient way to wash airline pillows after every flight.
"With diversity, we can gain more insights," he said.