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18 Oct 2022 Updated 20 Oct 2022

Employers in manufacturing get handbook to help them attract and retain talent

The Straits Times Ovais Subhani

DPM Heng Swee Keat viewing the Jurong Innovation District model at the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific event. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Honing in on the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing, Singapore has rolled out a handbook to help companies, especially smaller ones, attract new talent and recognise and retain their existing staff.

Launching the handbook on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the manufacturing sector in general, and advanced manufacturing in particular, is witnessing a record number of unfilled skilled jobs worldwide.

“If no action is taken, the potential of manufacturing cannot be realised,” he said, referring to the Republic’s plan to reinvigorate its manufacturing hub with advanced and innovative technologies.

“Manufacturing jobs have to be made more attractive. Existing workers must continuously upskill, and more must be done to recognise and retain them,” he added.

Mr Heng said the handbook will provide companies with the best human resource practices, tools and templates.

“This will help smaller companies as they develop and adopt progressive human resource strategies to support their business growth needs,” he said at the opening ceremony of the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific event at the Singapore Expo on Tuesday.

Mr Heng also unveiled at the event refreshed Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) for Singapore’s five advanced manufacturing and trade clusters, aimed at boosting production and creating at least 13,400 new jobs by 2025.

The Manufacturing Employer Handbook was developed by the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (Speta) and the Institute of Human Resource Professionals.

Preparation of the handbook was announced earlier this year by the Ministry of Trade and Industry as part of its Manufacturing 2030 Careers Initiative. The ministry said then that the handbook will cover a range of human capital best practices and resources to support companies in developing structured career progression pathways for their employees.

The plan also included Speta identifying and working with at least 20 committed companies to pilot the adoption of these practices and pathways.

Mr Heng noted that the critical need to address talent attraction and retention is as much a company effort as it is a collective industry effort.

Hence, Singapore last year started a SkillsFuture Queen Bee programme.

“This programme aims to recruit 40 larger firms, or Queen Bees, to train more than their actual needs, so that the excess trained workers can benefit 4,000 smaller enterprises.

“Forty for 4,000. This is an industry-led solution,” he said.

Mr Heng said the ITMs were another example of Singapore’s collective approach to tackling industrywide issues holistically.

“We need rallying points to re-envision and uplift manufacturing in a way that not only encourages greater industry partnership, but also ownership and trust.”

He said the ITMs not only tackle industrywide issues in an integrated way, but they also bring together all the stakeholders involved - where companies, unions and the Government work closely together.

“The refreshed ITMs feature the themes of innovation, sustainability and people, underpinned by strong connectivity.”

He said Singapore has consistently invested in research, innovation and enterprise, and advance manufacturing is one key area of focus.

The DPM announced that to ride the new wave of demand for more advanced semiconductors, Singapore will set up the National Gallium Nitride Technology Centre with an initial investment of around US$85 million ($120.8 million) over the next five years.

While semiconductors have historically used silicon substrates, their performance is suboptimal at high voltages. Hence, other materials such as gallium nitride (GaN) are increasingly being used instead of silicon.

The developments in GaN technology by chipmakers offer longer battery life and faster charging for mobile phones, electric vehicles and power tools, as well as faster data communication capabilities.

Mr Heng said the new technology centre will serve as a shared resource in a partnership hosted by A*Star and leveraging technology developed by the Nanyang Technological University and DSO National Laboratories.

“This will be a boutique foundry that can provide small volume production, building on existing capabilities,” he said.



Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.