Wednesday, 11 November 2015

$12.5 million fund to develop, attract talent in public transport industry

It will be used to develop relevant courses, sponsor study awards and set up training centres
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2015

With the country's rail network set to double in length to over 360km by 2030, more manpower will be needed in the public transport sector - such as engineers and technicians.

To address this, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a $12.5 million kitty yesterday to help attract and groom talent in the industry.

Singapore Polytechnic, in collaboration with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), will be rolling out a new...
Posted by SkillsFuture SG on Monday, November 9, 2015

The Public Transport Manpower Development Fund will, over the next three years, be used to develop industry-relevant courses, sponsor study awards, and set up new training facilities, like simulators.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who announced the fund yesterday, said Singapore's rail expansion must be supported by an "equally determined effort to build up the core of local talents".

The manpower is needed to "design, develop, operate and maintain a system that is not just comprehensive, but highly reliable", she added.

Mrs Teo said the Government has partnered with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics and universities to develop courses that will cater to students and mid-career professionals.

Two such courses are already under way - an ITE Higher Nitec in rapid transit engineering that was launched in April with an inaugural batch of 40 students, and a part-time Diploma in Engineering (rapid transit technology) that was started by Singapore Polytechnic last month, with an inaugural intake of 15 mid-career professionals.

Next year, Singapore Polytechnic and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency will also roll out a SkillsFuture Earn-and-Learn programme for rapid transit technology.

This will be offered to all Nitec and Higher Nitec engineering graduates, who will undergo on-the-job training with employers, apart from structured classroom sessions.

From next year, students and professionals can also apply for study awards and training grants for rail-related courses. Up to $2 million is expected to be disbursed every year, benefiting some 450 people, the LTA said.

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said the current workforce in the public bus and rail sector is about 19,000 strong. He is targeting between 200 and 300 rail engineers, and 600 to 700 train technicians to join the industry annually, for the next 15 years.

Both SBS Transit and SMRT welcomed the new fund. SBS Transit chief executive Gan Juay Kiat said the company has seen "very fast-paced growth" in its rail business, and has ramped up its recruitment in the lead up to the Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) opening on Dec 27. More staff will also be recruited for the DTL3 that is targeted to open in 2017, he added.

SMRT Corp president and group chief executive Desmond Kuek said the company has been recruiting actively, boosting its rail engineer numbers by over 70 per cent in the past three years to 328, with a target of 400.

Mr Sam Bin Mian, 50, a senior technical officer with SBS Transit who is taking the part-time diploma, said: "I currently specialise in train repairs and overhaul. Through the course, I'll learn about (train) electronics and electrical (systems) and it'll help me better communicate with staff from those departments in my company."

"COOL” ENGINEERS AND TECHNICIANS IN OUR RAIL SECTOR Sam Bin Mian and Adam Lai are two of the “mature students”...
Posted by Josephine Teo on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rail engineers' training to be expanded: Khaw
By Yuen Sin, The Sunday Times, 22 Nov 2015

Stressing the need for rail engineers to keep up with the latest train technology, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday revealed that he will be ramping up training programmes.

And these include tertiary programmes for those studying to be engineers, and continuing education schemes for those already working in the sector.

In a blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw also mooted the idea of establishing a "National Rail Academy" with the Public Transport Tripartite Committee, to bring together all existing training programmes.

Such an academy "will signal the Government's concerted and determined approach to build up and deepen rail capabilities". It can build economies of scale in training facilities, allow apprentice schemes to be implemented and assure those who enter the academy of a job. "This will allow the Government to start recruitment early, well before new lines come along," he wrote.

The reliability of the MRT system came under a renewed spotlight after the massive train breakdown on July 7 that crippled the North-South and East-West lines for two hours.

"As rail technology continues to evolve and improve, our rail engineers have to keep up. Every new line and every new train must be better than their predecessors," said Mr Khaw. "This way, we keep our train systems and fleet up- to-date, more reliable, easier to maintain, safer and more cost-effective to operate."

The sector has made "a good start" in recent years, with the Land Transport Authority and transport operators providing sponsorships and internships, and working with higher learning institutes to redesign courses with a focus on transport engineering.

However, more still needs to be done to strengthen the virtuous circle in which teachers and students benefit from industry experience, and the industry benefits from well-taught graduates.

He added that the Government will work with the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University to include rail engineering among their final- year engineering modules. This way, the Government can tap a broader pool of engineering talent across all faculties, he wrote.

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