SINGAPORE - Manufacturers will get increased support so they can hire staff to support their business transformation while workers who want to enter the sector can get more help with their career transition.
Business transformation refers to how workers can help a company to innovate with new technology like robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Professional conversion programmes for the manufacturing sector are offering more places to benefit an additional 1,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) over a period of three years.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told a briefing during a visit to precision engineering manufacturer TranZplus on Wednesday (Nov 27): "What we see is there is still scope for more to come into the manufacturing sector. Around 13,000 workers have gone through professional conversion programmes and one in 10 were in (manufacturing)."
Around 1,400 people have undertaken the manufacturing programmes since 2016, benefiting about 600 companies.
Mrs Teo added that workers have to go through re-skilling to help them enter new sectors and boost businesses.
The additional 1,000 places - the intake started in September - will be for PMETs who want to make the switch into the sector through the professional conversion programme for manufacturing professionals, and one for technical sales engineers or managers.
The programmes will equip mid-career people with skills needed to take on jobs in roles such as operations management, quality assurance, project management, skills and marketing, and business and account development.
Workforce Singapore (WSG) said in a statement: "Companies looking to re-skill and redeploy existing employees affected by the business transformation into new or enhanced roles can also tap these professional conversion programmes to defray the costs of retraining their workforce."
It added that the move is in response to the projected demand from the sector and to further prepare employers and workers for economic upturn.
Mrs Teo noted: "One way of describing (today's economic situation) is persistent showers with pockets of sunshine. There is some cloudiness and yet, also companies that are doing well.
"Companies may still see opportunities to expand and strengthen themselves. We have to make the best out of the pockets of sunshine to help companies to grow."
She noted that 90 per cent of those who have gone through professional conversion programmes remain in employment.
WSG added: "Companies in the manufacturing sector are encouraged to make use of this period of moderated economic growth to transform their operations and prepare for new industry developments and the pick-up of the economy.
"With robotics and automation identified as potential growth areas, some companies are also expanding and diversifying their portfolios to sharpen their competitive edge and increase their revenue.
"As companies streamline their processes and adopt technologies and industry 4.0 solutions, progressive employers are also... (upskilling) their workforce to ensure that they are ready... for the new job roles enhanced or created as part of business transformation."
TranZplus chief executive Nelson Lim said he is taking this time to embark on industry 4.0 and explore solutions that can reduce repetitive work, innovate and lift productivity. He is also diversifying into indoor farming technologies, while training his workforce.
He expects sales revenue to rise by more than 3 per cent and is still hiring, with two new staff members joining last week.
TranZplus finance manager Serene Tan, 53, was one of the employees who went through the professional conversion programme when moving from the shipping and transport industry to manufacturing.
She said: "I learnt a lot about sales strategies and skills and how to have a good relationship with customers".
General manager Simon Lim, 53, also went through a professional conversion programme from March to October. He said: "I learnt about how to expand a business overseas and even how to deal with younger staff.
"It really helped me transition from my previous job roles in multinational corporations to (running) a small and medium enterprise. The experience in other jobs is important, but such programmes help with the transition."