Study award powers technician's dream of becoming engineer

Mr Abdul Jamil Muhammad is a recipient of the first SkillsFuture Study Awards for the power sector. The 10 awards are for mid-career Singaporeans looking to develop their skills in the field.
Mr Abdul Jamil Muhammad is a recipient of the first SkillsFuture Study Awards for the power sector. The 10 awards are for mid-career Singaporeans looking to develop their skills in the field.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Since he took his N levels back in 1995, Mr Abdul Jamil Muhammad, 47, has found that he needed to upgrade his knowledge and skills.

The senior technician tried thrice to apply for diplomas, but was turned away each time because he lacked O-level qualifications.

Now, thanks to the first SkillsFuture Study Awards for the power sector awarded yesterday, he is pursuing a two-year Higher Nitec in Technology course in mechanical engineering.

These 10 bond-free awards, worth $5,000 each, are meant for mid-career Singaporeans looking to develop and deepen their skills in the power sector.

They support a range of courses at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnic, university and government-academy levels.

The awards were given out by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling on the third day of the Singapore International Energy Week 2017 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands.

Mr Jamil joined Senoko Energy in 1998 as a technician. He said he felt left behind when he saw other colleagues getting promoted more quickly than he was.

"If I had O levels, I could perhaps have become an engineer," he said.

He jumped at the chance to apply for the SkillsFuture study award when he learnt of it last year, and began his part-time studies in April this year.

It has not been easy. He has to balance work, studies and taking care of his 81-year-old father who has dementia. However, Mr Jamil is glad to finally pursue his dream of education and becoming an engineer. "I am not intending to stop here. I'm aiming to pursue a diploma in mechanical engineering," he said.

Also announced was the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, which will begin next year.

Administered by the Singapore Institute of Power and Gas, the programme aims to train future energy leaders to drive the energy industry through challenges such as disruptive technologies, tougher regulations and increasing consumer demands.

The institute was set up by energy utility firm SP Group to provide training courses for the power and gas sector. More details on the programme will be released later.

Six recipients of the Energy Industry Scholarship were announced yesterday as well.

This scholarship, open to ITE and polytechnic students, intends to develop talent for the power sector.

Ms Teo Mei Fang, 19, a second-year electrical and electronic engineering student at Singapore Polytechnic, said: "I grew up in a family of engineers. My father and brother inspired me to pursue an engineering career and I want to prove that women can do this job well, if not better." She will join SP Group after completing her course.

The scholarship was announced by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Sim Ann at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Study award powers technician's dream of becoming engineer'. Print Edition | Subscribe