May Day Rally

Veteran port worker took up conversion challenge

Mr Lim Chin Chye took up a professional conversion programme to learn to handle automated cranes.
Mr Lim Chin Chye took up a professional conversion programme to learn to handle automated cranes.

Port worker Lim Chin Chye, 53, used to operate manual yard cranes from his cabin seven storeys high.

The senior container equipment specialist at PSA now works in an air-conditioned control centre on the ground after taking up a professional conversion programme where he learnt to handle automated cranes.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that Mr Lim had initially been uncertain about learning a brand new system for the first time in 30 years.

"But now, he is confident and ready to tackle the transformations taking place in his workplace," said Mr Heng in his May Day Rally speech.

He cited Mr Lim as an example of a worker who has taken the effort to adapt and grow in a new role. Last year, almost 5,000 workers participated in professional conversion programmes, 30 per cent more than in 2017.

This strategy of lifelong learning will help workers prepare for new jobs and new industries, said Mr Heng.

Technological advancements should help workers do their jobs better, not replace them, he said.

But more work is needed to figure out how workers can develop skills for jobs that do not yet exist.

He added that unions can help to develop the right attitude among workers towards upskilling and reskilling so that they are not fatalistic about change and economic transformation.

"We can't protect jobs that will be made redundant. But we can and will protect... every working man and woman," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'Veteran port worker took up conversion challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe