Workforce Singapore ramps up reskilling efforts for electronics sector

To help workers in this industry cope better with the changes, Workforce Singapore will work with the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association and other industry stakeholders.
To help workers in this industry cope better with the changes, Workforce Singapore will work with the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association and other industry stakeholders.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In this era of gadgets and gizmos aplenty, the world of electronics is constantly in flux.

To help workers in this industry cope better with the changes, the Workforce Singapore (WSG) will work with the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association and other industry stakeholders to ramp up reskilling efforts that benefit workers and companies alike, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Thursday (Jan 30).

While some areas such as consumer electronics have taken a hit, there are opportunities in others, driven by the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, WSG said.

"As our economy restructures, it is a good time for companies to capitalise on this period of moderate growth to build up internal mobility and capabilities," Mrs Teo told employers during the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association Lunar New Year dinner.

"Doing so will help to prepare yourself to harness new opportunities in the longer run, by training up and reskilling your workers and new mid-career hires today for tomorrow."

The Government will also lend its support, she said.

Ramping Up Reskilling Efforts

For one, the training capacity for the current Professional Conversion Programmes for electronics engineers and electronics assistant engineers will be increased.

Since these programmes were launched in November 2016, 30 multinational corporations, and small and medium-sized enterprises have hired and retrained almost 900 local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), said Mrs Teo.

Now, another 1,000 more PMETs are expected to benefit over the next 3½ years, starting from November 2019, with new or enhanced job roles in areas such as production, facilities management, research and development, automation and integration, and technical support.

Mr Effandi bin Sajari, 47, was one of those who benefited from the retraining programme. After working for 19 years in the power sector, he joined the semiconductor industry last year, and is now a senior associate engineer at Globalfoundries.

In his current role, he manages cleanroom equipment that ensure optimal levels of humidity, temperature and pressure for wafer fabrication.

 
 
 

"Through the programme, I learnt how to manage the tools involved in the cleanroom," he said, adding that he was now earning about 10 per cent more than at his previous job.

WSG and SSIA have also rolled out a pilot Place-and-Train Programme for electronics operators, Mrs Teo said.

The three-month programme aims to equip mid-career operators and existing rank-and-file workers with the skills to take on new or enhanced roles in areas within the electronics and semiconductor industries. Such roles would be in production, facilities management, research and development, automation and integration, and technical support.

The pilot aims to benefit about 50 rank-and-file jobseekers for a start, but could be scaled up if there is a stronger demand, Mrs Teo said.

WSG chief executive Tan Choon Shian said the agency is committed to building a resilient workforce, equipped with the skills and capabilities to support the future needs of the electronics industry.

He added: "We also encourage employers to cast their sights further upstream and be ready to harness the opportunities when the eventual upturn arrives."

Mr Rajan Rajgopal, president and chief executive of DenseLight Semiconductors - one of the firms which sent their employees for retraining under the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) - said employers can benefit from the experience of mid-career PMETs who want to further develop themselves.

"That's where the PCP comes in - it is meant for people who already have experience, but perhaps just in a different field. With the retraining, it could help them channel their experience and willingness to learn into the industry, and become a productive contributor to the company," he said.