Career Development Plans launched for marine and offshore engineering industry

The plans will provide a structured progression pathway in terms of wages, skills and job roles. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two Career Development Plans were launched on Tuesday (Oct 5) to attract local talent to the marine and offshore engineering industry.

The plans, which are targeting drafting specialists and quality professionals, will provide a structured progression pathway in terms of wages, skills and job roles.

The announcement came during the Marine Week Symposium 2021, a hybrid event on opportunities in the industry.

Candidates under the plans will undergo predetermined training and pick up skillsets directly relevant to their job role, boosting productivity for the industry. This also means they can receive pay that is based on their skill levels.

The tiered approach will help workers progressively build up skills and experience from entry to principal-level positions, ensuring long-term career prospects in the industry.

The plans were jointly announced by the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), the Association of Singapore Marine Industries, and NTUC's Electronics, Marine & Engineering Cluster.

The organisations said: "The marine and offshore engineering industry contributed $3.6 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product and is crucial in cementing the country's position as a global trade hub.

"With an aim to increase this value-add to $5.8 billion and create 1,500 new jobs by 2025, there is a need to attract local talent for its long-term development and growth. However, some vocations in the industry remain unappealing to local talent due to lack of career progression and perceived low pay."

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said at the launch: "These two jobs (selected for the plans) are evergreen jobs. They are critical in almost every aspect of marine and offshore projects."

He added that the launch is also vital due to a manpower shortage in Singapore. The industry has to evolve, get younger workers to join, and ensure that the workers have a full career that they can realise in the future.

Employers can also see that such development plans are in their interest to keep their business sustainable, he said.

Beyond the plans, the three organisations also signed an agreement to help create a dedicated training and placement ecosystem for the marine and offshore engineering industry.

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (in red) at the Marine Week Symposium 2021 on Oct 5, 2021. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The industry has faced many challenges, said Mr Simon Kuik, president of the Association of Singapore Marine Industries, who is also vice-president of Sembcorp Marine. He pointed to the energy transition from oil to gas and renewables reducing the demand for oil drillers and production rigs.

The recovery of the sector was also pushed back by Covid-19, he said. But the industry digital plan was still launched in May to help firms adopt new technological tools and work effectively during the pandemic and beyond.

The Career Development Plans will be adopted by four firms as a start - Dyna-Mac Engineering, Keppel Offshore & Marine, PaxOcean and Sembcorp Marine.

More than 100 pilot vacancies will be made available at the SGUnited-e2i Marine Jobs and Skills Discovery job fair on Oct 7 from these four companies. They are part of some 400 openings offered at the fair.

The plans will be progressively rolled out to the rest of the industry depending on its response rate.

Under the plans, there are multiple pathways to cater to fresh graduates, mid-career switchers and existing workers in the industry.

Starting salaries for a drafting specialist or quality technician can range from $1,900 to $2,400.

Meanwhile, a principal drafting specialist or quality engineer with over five years' experience can earn $3,500 to $6,000.

Dr Lee Chay Hoon, Keppel Offshore & Marine director of organisation development and human resources, said: "Amid the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have been reskilling our workforce, streamlining and adapting our operations, and leveraging technology to grow our capabilities and accelerate our pivot to gas and renewables.

"The Career Development Plans augment our talent development efforts, and we look forward to future initiatives to better both our workforce and the industry."

Mr A.C. Lim, Dyna-Mac Holdings' chief executive, added that the plans pave a clear progression pathway that will help the company determine the training that is directly relevant to the candidates' job role.

"In the long run, this helps us achieve cost savings and increase productivity while tackling the lack of local manpower with its long-term career prospects."

Mr Lim Kwee, PaxOcean Singapore's director, said: "We are happy to be one of the early adopters of the plans.

"We hope that other companies can follow suit as well for the long-term growth and development of the industry."

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