Jobs growth taking off amid aviation boom

Aerospace growth here averages 8.6% over last 20 years

Singapore now has a 10 per cent share of the global aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul market, Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung revealed last night.

Speaking at a JTC networking event held at ITE College Central, he said the local aerospace industry has been growing at an average of 8.6 per cent over the last 20 years and today makes up about 1 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product.

"Employment in the sector has been growing steadily, from 9,200 in 1995 to 16,000 in 2005 and 20,000 now, of whom 80 per cent are Singaporeans," said Mr Ong, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence.

He said the long-term prospects of the industry remain positive, with industry experts estimating that 38,000 aeroplanes will be needed globally within the next two decades, approximately 40 per cent of which will be delivered to airlines in the Asia-Pacific.

Mr Ong said this would feed demand in Singapore, with more jobs expected to be created in the sector between now and 2020.

More local companies are hoping to grab a slice of the growing aerospace pie. Thirty-eight, including 13 first-timers, participated in the Singapore pavilion at this year's Singapore Airshow. This is up from 30 in 2014, and represents the largest showing by local firms at the air show since its inception.

Eleven were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) representing diverse aspects of the industry, from engineering firm JEP Precision Engineering to fleet advertising firm BusAds.

Mr Edwin Ho, deputy director for aerospace at JTC, believes there is a place for SMEs in an industry dominated by multinationals such as Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.

"The industry is big enough for all players," said Mr Ho.

BusAds director Alvin Yapp believes SMEs can hold their own against larger companies.

"SMEs are hungry and nimble, so anything is possible," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Jobs growth taking off amid aviation boom'. Print Edition | Subscribe