Coronavirus pandemic

Traineeships to help mid-career job seekers when recovery kicks in

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (far right) at the production facility of PBA Group, a robotics and automation company, in Yishun, where she met the firm's trainees. PBA has hired 13 staff under the attach-and-train programme for robotics engineers.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (right) at the production facility of PBA Group, a robotics and automation company, in Yishun, where she met the firm's trainees. PBA has hired 13 staff under the attach-and-train programme for robotics engineers.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Opening more pathways for mid-career job seekers through the likes of traineeships can help them to get ready for the economic recovery, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.

"(These) programmes will enable them to acquire relevant work experience in companies that are building up their capabilities in industries that are well positioned for growth in the future," she added at a briefing ahead of yesterday's release of labour market statistics.

Mrs Teo was speaking at robotics and automation company PBA Group, which has hired 13 staff under the attach-and-train programme for robotics engineers.

The Workforce Singapore scheme has admitted about 200 individuals over nine intakes since 2018, while around 60 companies have come on board.

PBA Group chief executive Derrick Yap said the programme has been beneficial as the firm does not have sufficient resources to train new employees.

It allows it to tap trainees who have undergone three months of classroom-based lessons and then assess them when they do three months of on-the-job training.

"When you hire someone traditionally, you take a very big risk... because you don't know if the (employee) can perform and you have to train him," said Mr Yap.

"But in the programme, you can see them work for three months before you make a decision whether you want to hire (them) or not."

The company is also tapping the SGUnited Traineeships Programme to offer around 20 opportunities across several roles to nurture future robotic talents.

Ms Rachael Cheah, 39, a field application engineer trainee at PBA, said she used the attach-and-train programme to move from her previous job in medical technology to automation and robotics, which is an "up and coming industry".

"I wanted to build up my skills first because I know it is hard for a company to take in someone who has no experience in the field," she said.

 
 
 

"Robotics as a topic sounds powerful and complicated to many. I was nervous and excited in the beginning, but I found the programme was very structured and it helped me to learn new concepts, software and terminology."

Trainee Daniel Chua, 53, said the programme has lowered the barriers of venturing into a new industry. He started in January, three months after leaving a job as a sales manager in the manufacturing industry.

"At this time, employers would probably be less willing to employ someone new with no experience, or would not have the time to train a new employee. They would want someone who (is ready to) plug and play, and that's understandable," he added.

He noted that the attachment comes with an allowance: "It gives me the peace of mind to do what I am interested in without it taking (too much) of a financial toll."

 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline 'Traineeships to help mid-career job seekers when recovery kicks in'. Print Edition | Subscribe