SINGAPORE - Ms Enrica Ng, 17, knows that aspiring to join the cleaning sector is an unconventional choice for those her age.
But it is the path she has chosen, after applying successfully for the National Environment Agency-Industry Scholarship Programme for Environmental Services.
She was one of six students who received the new scholarship in a small ceremony at the Environment Building in Scotts Road on Saturday (Jan 23) morning.
"I've always been interested in the processes behind the cleaning industry but this Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of it even more," said Ms Ng, who is a first-year student at Singapore Polytechnic, pursuing a diploma in applied chemistry.
"This industry, its workforce and the various players played a big role during this pandemic. The environmental services industry will only gain more importance in society in the years to come," she added.
Ms Ng, who will have to work for three years with her sponsoring company Cleaning Express after completing her diploma, said she hopes the stint will provide her with more skills and knowledge.
"I hope that working alongside cleaners will help me understand their problems better so that we can make their jobs better, increase productivity and efficiency so they can pursue their desired career paths and earn a higher income that they deserve," she said.
The scholarship, in its first year after being set up in February 2020, aims to help more younger and qualified people enter the environmental services industry, in particular, the cleaning and waste management sectors.
On Saturday, four full-term scholarships and two mid-term scholarships were awarded to three polytechnic and three Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students.
They are Ms Ng, Mr Cyrus Ng Boon Bing, 20, a third-year engineering science student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic; Mr Abdul Qahar Zaini, 19, a third-year chemical engineering student at Singapore Polytechnic; Mr Danish Sirhan Zulkifli, 17, a second-year mechanical technology student at ITE; Mr Daeng Budi Iskandar Jumahat, 17, a second-year built environment (mechanical and electrical services) student at ITE; and Mr Muhammad Anaqi Harjuna, 17, a second-year mechanical engineering student at ITE.
Mr Iskandar said he found working in environmental services to be important as it helps to keep away diseases and safeguard public health.
He is sponsored by Horsburgh Integrated Services.
"I want to contribute new ideas to the industry, for example, maybe create new technology that can help with cleaning to help elderly cleaners work more efficiently," he said.
Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony, said the Covid-19 situation had provided the environmental services industry with greater impetus to transform, and heightened public awareness of its critical role.
Addressing the recipients, Dr Khor said: "Emerging stronger from this pandemic and forging ahead with industry transformation is an important step in creating a clean and safe Singapore. This needs to be supported by a strong pipeline of talented and dedicated professionals with relevant skills and the mindset to always innovate.
"You are the pioneer scholars and future leaders of the environmental services industry, and you will play a significant role in this transformation."