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Skills Development Part of ASPRI’s DNA
Skills development has been part of ASPRI’s raison d’tre since the very beginning. To upgrade the skills of workers, Process LIUP together with the EDB and the industry identified 13 core skills for the PCM sector. A training blueprint for the skillsets were developed under the Institute of Technical Education (ITE)’s Skills Evaluation Test Certificate (SETC) system. After undergoing on- the-job training (OJT), trainees were put to the test at members’ test centres.
In the early years, ASPRI acted as a co- ordinator as both the training and testing were conducted by members under the supervision and invigilation of the ITE. With the formation of the ASPRI Institute of Process Industry (ASPRI- IPI) in December 2008 with the support of plant owners and members, and grants from the WDA, ASPRI began to assume responsibility for training.
Initially, a 3,000-sq. ft training centre was set at Tradehub 21. Fitted with one classroom and one workshop, it provided nationally recognised Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) and placement programmes for the process sector. However, training for MOM related courses and ITE’s SETC courses involving the 13 core skills remained with ASPRI members.
In 2013, a decision was taken to consolidate and streamline all training under ASPRI-IPI.
Ramping up training with ASPRI Integrated Training Centre
Skills development took a quantum leap with the construction of the ASPRI Integrated Training Centre (AITC) in 2017. At 40,000 sq. ft,
it is more than 13 times bigger than the previous centre. In its first full financial year, FY17/18, it trained 12,700 workers, and the number had increased year on year to 30,000 in FY19/20 before Covid-19 hit. For an industry employing 30,000 workers, it was quite an achievement!
The establishment of AITC was opportune. “PMCMC under the chairmanship of EDB wanted to look at having a dormitory near Jurong Island for process workers to reduce their fatigue,” said Mr Quek.
This provided an opening for ASPRI – how could ASPRI leverage on this? At a brainstorming session in early 2015, this issue was considered by the EC. “If we were given this piece of land, what shall we do? How can we help the industry?” recalled Ms Caphine Lee, General Manager, ASPRI-IPI.
It was decided then that a training centre would fit the bill. Through deliberation, everything became a lot clearer – what kind
of courses ASPRI should provide, which level should it begin with as well as the centre’s mission and vision.
With the help of consultants KPMG, ASPRI submitted a proposal – that the new facility should include a training centre. By co-locating accommodation and training within a single facility, workers’ training could be ramped up.
With the benefit of hindsight, it was an astute suggestion, but in 2015 when the training centre was being deliberated it seemed a tad too ambitious. Cost was a key concern as a dormitory and training facility would easily push total investment over S$200 million. There was also no precedent in having a full-scale training centre integrated with a dormitory in Singapore. ASPRI also did not have historical training numbers to make its case.
“There was quite a bit of justification to win over the plant owners and PCMMC,” said Mr Quek.
 Since its formation in 1997, ASPRI has spared no effort in addressing members concerns. By working with government agencies, plant owners and other stakeholders, ASPRI has developed a par excellent training centre to upskill the rank and file, spurred members to adopt technology and digitise to reduce reliance on manpower and improve efficiency and safety, and organised field trips to widen vistas.
As the world evolves, new challenges are being thrown up. The transition to clean energy is top on the list, which will have implications for ASPRI members. By staying abreast of developments and working with members to face these challenges squarely, ASPRI has stayed relevant to the industry’s needs.

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