Thursday 18 February 2016

Government to hire 1,000 engineers this year

Engineers to get better pay and more structured career path
It will review salaries to match market rates, provide training and leadership grooming
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

Engineers can expect more job openings, higher salaries and better prospects in the public service.

The Government, the largest employer here, will this year hire 1,000 engineers, expanding the existing pool by more than 13 per cent.

It will also review the salaries of public sector engineers and start a leadership scheme to groom them for positions such as chief engineer, chief technologist and chief scientist in the public service.

Engineers and engineering have played a big part in Singapore’s devt over the past 50 years, and will continue to do so....
Posted by Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The moves were announced yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the opening of a building at The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES).

"As we transition into an innovation economy, we need to build up capabilities in newer engineering and multi-disciplinary fields," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

There will be structured training and development opportunities to help engineers in the public service continually refresh and upgrade their skills, Mr Teo added.

"We need more and better engineers who go beyond just designing, building, operating and maintaining public infrastructure and systems with their deep technical expertise," said Mr Teo, whose first degree was in Electrical Engineering and Management Science from the University of Manchester.

A salary review will be conducted this year to make sure engineers are fairly compensated for the work they do, he said, adding that this will be for fresh graduates and current engineers and to keep pace with market benchmarks.

More details will be announced during the Committee of Supply debate in April, he said.

There are currently about 7,700 engineers in the public service.

In December last year, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan urged the Land Transport Authority to beef up its engineering team so that it can take over the running and maintenance of the MRT if needed.

IES president Chong Kee Sen said the new changes are a "good start" to draw more people to engineering but more needs to be done.

All stakeholders have to be engaged as engineering is competing against other professions in an increasingly tight labour market.

"Schools can make classes more exciting and employers can make engineers' jobs more interesting," Mr Chong said. With a new building next to its existing one at Bukit Tinggi Road, the IES can hold more training and networking sessions to bring the community closer, he said.

The gross monthly starting salary of engineering graduates from the National University of Singapore or Nanyang Technological University who started work in 2014 was $3,000 to $3,770, according to the Manpower Ministry. It does not provide the breakdown between public and private sectors but labour experts said the difference in starting pay can be about $1,000.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan welcomed the changes.

"With higher pay, Singapore will be able to attract and retain more talent (and prevent them from joining other sectors)," he said.

"Engineers boost the country's competitiveness because they spearhead innovation but of course, with higher pay we must hope that there are more productivity gains."

Engineering focus needed to help get Singapore's tech talent to return home, says PM Lee
By Jeremy Au Yong, US Bureau Chief, The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

SUNNYLANDS, CALIFORNIA - Singapore needs to change its perceptions of engineers if it hopes to emulate the success of Silicon Valley and attract some of the Singaporeans based there to return home, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He had met several Singaporeans working in the tech industry during his visit to Silicon Valley and San Francisco this week and said they have much to offer the country.

But to get them back to Singapore would mean being able to offer them the same challenges that the American tech mecca does, Mr Lee said.

"We hope that one day they will come back, and I think a good number at some stage in life, will decide to come back because their children are growing up and parents growing old, and they want to come home. So we must be able to bring them back and to offer them challenges similar to what they can get here in Silicon Valley, which is not easy," Mr Lee said to the Singapore media during a wrap-up interview of his week-long visit to the United States.

"It's not just a matter of pay or having a job - they can find jobs. But to have the same challenge, same excitement, the same kind of technical demand on the person so feels he is stretching the envelope and doing something meaningful. And we need to work at that. We need companies who can absorb them - engineering companies, companies which put engineering at the core of their business."

He added that the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore was working on proposals to try and get some of these Singaporeans to return home and would announce them soon.

Mr Lee said that one thing he heard repeatedly during his visit to Silicon Valley, even from Singaporean engineers there, was that the American tech hub valued engineers.

"In Singapore, people may not always see engineering like that. They see it as a support function - my computer is broken, call an engineer and fix it. That's a different conception, and we really need to reposition our conception of what engineering is about, and how important engineering is to us."

Met Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Tim Cook (Apple) today to find out what new things they are doing, and how their...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, February 12, 2016

There is a sizeable community of Singaporeans living in the San Francisco Bay Area working for start-ups and tech giants and the Government is paying more attention to it.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, March 4, 2016

Big tech firms expanding here, creating jobs: PM
They hold Republic in high regard as people work hard and Govt is effective, he says
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 21 Feb 2016

Major global technology companies are expanding their operations here and creating opportunities for Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night.

And Singapore has to make sure it remains a nation of opportunity for all and is a liveable, endearing home, he told 2,500 residents at a Chinese New Year dinner in his constituency, Ang Mo Kio GRC.

In a short speech, Mr Lee shared some observations from his recent week-long visit to the United States for the US-Asean Summit, where he also visited tech giants in Silicon Valley and caught up with Singaporeans working there.

He noted that companies like Google, Facebook and Apple have big operations here and are expanding their local presence.

They hold Singapore in high regard, even though it is small, has no hinterland and costs are not low.

"But it is a place where they can do business, where Singaporeans work hard, where the Government is effective, the infrastructure is good," PM Lee said. "And so they are here and they are creating jobs for us and prosperity for us."

Last Thursday, Google's local office announced it would acquire local business messaging start-up Pie to kick-start a Singapore-based engineering team.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who oversees the Smart Nation initiative and was with PM Lee on his US visit, had also said the move would mean greater opportunities for computer science and engineering graduates.

Mr Duncan Tay, 37, who works in a small local firm that provides IT support to businesses and was at the dinner last night, welcomed the news that major tech companies are growing their presence. "When big companies come here, they subcontract out more jobs and hire more. I've seen more business opportunities lately," he said.

PM Lee also attended a reception for Singaporeans living in San Francisco during his US visit, and encouraged them to maintain their links with Singapore and return one day.

He said last night: "It reflects well on us that they are doing well... making promising start-ups, hoping to invent the next big thing.

"At the same time, we hope that they will accumulate experience and one day, they will come back and contribute to Singapore society and to our economy too."

"I'm sure they will," Mr Lee added, noting that some will return for family reasons and others will do so as they see opportunities here and feel Singapore is a place where they can chase their dreams.

Many also see that Singapore is changing, whether it is old housing estates being upgraded, park connectors being built and good and affordable healthcare services being put in place, he noted.

Mr Lee had told Singapore reporters at the end of his trip that the Infocomm Development Authority is working on proposals to try to draw tech experts back home and will announce them soon. The civil service is hiring more engineers.

Last night, Mr Lee said it is also important to ensure that Singapore remains a beautiful place and all Singaporeans are taken care of.

"This is the Year of the Monkey. The monkey is always thinking of new things to do - find a higher branch to climb, another fruit to pluck. I think we should be like that too. If we are like that, then we will have a bright future."

Felt good to be back home in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year with Teck Ghee residents yesterday.Although it was a...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, February 20, 2016

* Public Service Engineering Conference 2016

Engineers urged to embrace cross-agency work
By Jalelah Abu Baker, The Straits Times, 3 Jun 2016

Public sector engineers are expected to draw on information and technology from different agencies and sectors to build technological infrastructure for the nation, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

Speaking to some 1,300 public sector engineers at the inaugural Public Service Engineering Conference, he said cross-agency work can enable comprehensive and integrated solutions.

For instance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and other government agencies use different sets of data such as demographics, road networks and people and traffic flow to make more informed urban planning decisions, both at the national and local level.

"These include planning for infrastructure needs such as roads and drains, and also where to locate social facilities such as parks, hospitals, eldercare facilities and childcare centres," DPM Teo said.

The conference at the ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio was to recognise engineers' contributions and provide a platform for sharing experiences, said the organiser, the Public Service Division.

DPM Teo also commended the innovative engineering beneath the Marina Bay area, which houses the world's largest underground district cooling system for the buildings in the area and thus allows an unobstructed view of the bay.

The 20 giant chillers, 8km of pipes, 25 cooling towers and 79 heat exchanges are "ingeniously hidden away", he said. He also cited an "old but still relevant example" of the Infrared Fever Scanning System used during the Sars outbreak in 2003. The system was adapted from a military thermal imager.

Experienced engineers in their fields also took to the stage to share their journeys and inspire fellow engineers.

Mr Reman Chim, 36, an assistant director with the Defence Science and Technology Agency who deals with cyber security, said the conference had enabled him to network and understand the skill sets of engineers from other fields.

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