Retrenched engineer switches to life sciences

Mr Poh Kay Leong was retrenched as an engineer two years ago. He joined a life sciences company, picked up new skills and is now earning a higher salary.
Mr Poh Kay Leong was retrenched as an engineer two years ago. He joined a life sciences company, picked up new skills and is now earning a higher salary. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Mr Poh Kay Leong had been mentally prepared to be retrenched a few months before he lost his job. That was two years ago, when the research and development engineer had to leave the firm where he had been working for 12 years.

The projects were dwindling and there were rumours of retrenchments swirling for some time before the firm axed workers.

But hunting for a new job was harder than expected. Mr Poh, 39, searched unsuccessfully for four months through job portals and LinkedIn, until a friend recommended him for a position in global life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific. Even though he had no experience in the industry, his interest was piqued and he decided to try it out.

"I was just trying to get a job, and I'm glad they were willing to give me the opportunity," he said, adding that he was even given a higher salary compared with his previous role.

Joining the company as a senior engineering technician, he enrolled in the professional conversion programme (PCP) for medical technology assistant engineers to understand the industry better.

He picked up new skills on the job and through the firm's internal training. "It was difficult at the start but I just had to try very hard to learn as much as possible so that I can apply it to my job," he said.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said yesterday that like Mr Poh, about two in three PCP participants earn higher wages after they moved into new roles.

Two years on, Mr Poh said he is still learning new things. "I've gained experience and knowledge in another industry. I think that's good for my career," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 28, 2019, with the headline Retrenched engineer switches to life sciences. Subscribe