SINGAPORE - As a bus enthusiast since he was five years old, Mr Briant Tan loved taking bus rides around Singapore with his family and learnt most of the local bus routes by heart over the years.
Mr Tan, whose grandfather was a bus driver, also has a collection of more than 30 model buses from Singapore and Hong Kong.
Today, the 21-year-old Nitec graduate in mechanical technology, is one of the 21 students enrolled in the Institute of Technical Education's (ITE) inaugural work-study diploma programme in land transport engineering.
This 2½-year programme, which started on April 4, is the first offered by ITE in collaboration with SBS Transit.
Students can opt to specialise in bus or rail engineering, and they receive a monthly salary of around $2,000.
Every week, they spend four to five days working as an apprentice at SBS Transit and return to school for a day to learn about basic engineering such as combustible engines, sensors and machine parts.
The course equips students with knowledge and skills in carrying out preventive and corrective maintenance activities on buses and trains and their related systems.
Students will also use data analytics tools as well as augmented and virtual reality simulators during their training.
The transport operator's chief executive Cheng Siak Kian said: "This partnership with ITE enables us to grow a strong pipeline of well-trained technicians with rich hands-on experience for the public transport industry."
Besides training to becoming a technician, students will receive training in supervisory skills, technical diagnostics as well as operations and planning, which are skills required for assistant engineers, said Mr Koh Boon Yeow, SBS Transit's head of engineering for the North East Line.
Mr Koh was part of the company's team that co-developed the curriculum with ITE.
At the end of the programme, those who perform well and are interested in pursuing a career at SBS Transit will be invited for a job interview for the role of an assistant engineer.
On Wednesday (May 4), ITE and SBS Transit signed a memorandum of understanding to extend their collaboration to train more students and staff in land transport engineering.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran witnessed the signing ceremony at the North East Line's Sengkang Depot.
The Land Transport Authority expects to create up to 8,000 new public transport jobs by 2030 as it aims to make the industry more innovative and provide better connection for all.
Many industries are facing a manpower crunch with Singapore reopening after the pandemic, but that the work-study diploma programme is one way to recruit more talent, said SBS Transit's head of human resources and organisational development Don Leow.
For student Ahmad Khan, who is specialising in rail, he gained new knowledge on automotives, rapid transit and general information about land transport in his first month.
The 25-year-old, who hopes to pursue a career at SBS Transit or further his studies upon graduation, said: "I hope to learn more about trains as I am a train enthusiast. I really like to take a look at trains, see how they move, where the power sources come from and moving parts of the train."