New initiative to boost digital skills in manufacturing sector

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon trying out a drone demonstration unit yesterday at the inaugural Aerospace Engineering Week at ITE College Central, where he also launched the Worker 4.0 Digital Readiness Certificate. The
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon trying out a drone demonstration unit yesterday at the inaugural Aerospace Engineering Week at ITE College Central, where he also launched the Worker 4.0 Digital Readiness Certificate. The certificate is made up of 17 short modules. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon trying out a drone demonstration unit yesterday at the inaugural Aerospace Engineering Week at ITE College Central, where he also launched the Worker 4.0 Digital Readiness Certificate. The
MR LEE JUN YUAN, a senior technician who works at Avitron.

A new training programme has been launched to help manufacturing workers pick up digital skills such as coding and using emerging technology.

The Worker 4.0 Digital Readiness Certificate, which is made up of 17 short modules, will be offered to at least 1,000 workers in manufacturing industries this year.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Koh Poh Koon said yesterday that the scheme should help to bridge the skills gap faced by technicians and associate professionals (TAPs).

"We have been hearing from the ground that the available digital training courses that are out in the marketplace are pegged at the professional, managerial and executive level, and technicians and associate professionals sometimes find it rather difficult to find suitable courses to meet their learning needs," he said at an event to launch the certificate at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central.

TAPs make up about one in five of Singaporean and permanent resident workers here, and are in jobs such as assistant engineers and draughtsmen.

The new certificate covers three tracks: digital equipment and devices, new technologies and their applications, and fundamental software and programming skills.

Each module takes up to a day of face-to-face teaching and is complemented by the NTUC's ULeap mobile learning platform.

IT WILL COME IN HANDY DOWN THE ROAD

Our company is planning to introduce some robots, so if I take a foundation course in robotics, it will be easier for me to get used to and understand the technology when the company starts training us to use it.

MR LEE JUN YUAN, a senior technician who works at Avitron.

 
 
 

The unions in the aerospace and aviation cluster signed an agreement at the event with NTUC LearningHub, the Employment and Employability Institute, ITE and SkillsFuture Singapore to get companies to come on board the new initiative.

Dr Koh, who is Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, also launched the inaugural Aerospace Engineering Week, which includes a symposium and a series of professional development courses.

There will be a career fair next Wednesday at Seletar Aerospace Park for about 1,000 graduating students from institutes of higher learning to explore job opportunities and technology used in the aerospace industry.

New technology being used by aircraft makers includes sensors to gather data for better analytics to predict failure, and 3D printing to refurbish parts.

The global aircraft fleet is also projected to grow by more than 3 per cent per year over the next two decades, said Dr Koh, who added: "This is why it is important that our workers must be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on these new, exciting job roles, especially those at the technician and associate professional level."

Senior technician Lee Jun Yuan, 55, who works on plane engine casings at manufacturing company Avitron, said courses in digital technology are useful to raise awareness among workers about how their jobs are changing.

"Our company is planning to introduce some robots, so if I take a foundation course in robotics, it will be easier for me to get used to and understand the technology when the company starts training us to use it," he said.

Mr Joseph Wong, 53, a project manager at medical equipment maker Fong's Engineering & Manufacturing, hopes that modules such as data analytics will help its technicians understand why the company places value in collecting data.

Mr Wong said many of his workers have yet to understand the significance of digitisation but added: "The Worker 4.0 Digital Readiness Certificate will be handy in plugging the skills gaps of my technicians."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2019, with the headline 'New initiative to boost digital skills in manufacturing sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe