Page 58 - ASPRI2223 eDirectory
P. 58

 contractors as it also affects the companies’ performance. Some of these trades like welding, painting and corrosion protection already have international accreditation and companies are known to engage trainers on their own account to develop their workers to achieve these higher standards.
AITC has developed to its own beat since it was established. “It was not modelled after other centres, instead we are the role models for other industries now,” said Mr Goh.
In 2019, before Covid-19 restricted movements, the centre received 36 industry visits from associations’ representatives, government officials, plant owners and engineering service providers.
Along with ASPRI’s annual Directory of Singapore Process & Chemical Industries and the traditional seventh lunar month auction, AITC provides a steady revenue stream for ASPRI to help fund its extensive programme.
Tackling An Intractable Problem – Manpower
Seen as dirty and dangerous, the PCM sector faces challenges in attracting Singaporean workers. Along with Marine and Construction sectors, it relies heavily on foreigners to undertake the manual tasks. Over the years the government has tightened the requirements while increasing the FWs’ levy to force companies to scale back on FWs’ employment and ramp up on automation.
“It is going to be very tough, which is why ASPRI got to help our members in this particular area,” said Mr Danny Chua, President of ASPRI 14th Executive Council.
Without sufficient workers, some are finding themselves at a disadvantage as they are unable to pitch for contracts lest they cannot fulfil them. But those who have automated are
reaping the benefits in the present environment as workers are in short supply. It was particularly acute during the pandemic when many FWs returned home to be with their families amidst the uncertainties. Many did not return, and those who did had to deal with strict border restrictions imposed to contain the virus spread.
While the dearth of manpower is a longstanding issue, it has become more critical to address it, and address it now with the industry’s ageing workforce. Not only is the industry unable to find operators to fill the rank and file, going forward it will face difficulties in employing people with the right qualifications for supervisory and technical positions.
To attract people, particularly the younger generation to join the industry, member companies will have to transform and this can take several forms, Mr Chua suggested.
“Firstly, adoption of new technology. This can also mean discarding old and traditional methods of doing business. We believe that by doing so, new challenges and excitement are injected into the job, something that I believe the younger generation is actually looking forward to.
“Secondly, adoption of apprenticeships, to actually attract more manpower. We all know SMEs in countries such as Japan and Germany are known to provide apprenticeships to students who have yet to graduate. I personally see potential for such collaboration between ASPRI and some of the educational institutions to embark on a similar programme.
“The third one is actually provision of continuous and lifelong training. ASPRI-IPI can play a major part by providing new syllabus and curriculum that are contemporary and relevant to the industry.”
“The first and the third are already in motion, whereas the second, on the adoption of apprenticeship, this is something that is relatively new. We tried before we were not very successful, but we are going to try again,” Mr Chua noted.
There are challenges in running such a programme, he accepted. “For example, the National Service that the students have to go through, two and a half years. During this period, they may change their mind about joining the organisation that they were attached to during their apprenticeship. This is something that we have got to discuss and see how we can overcome it.”
The ITEs and polytechnics are a good source for the apprenticeship programme.
Companies are also looking at migrant workers as potential candidates – not for apprenticeship – but as candidates who they can nurture to positions of authority.
“There are a lot of migrant workers who come to Singapore to work and have acquired a lot of knowledge and experiences. I’m very, very certain that every organisation today, and I’m referring to member companies, has at least one migrant worker who started working as a general worker but is currently assuming a managerial role. They play a large part in making what our SMES are today, and they will continue to do so. They are brilliant individuals who work extremely hard when given the opportunities. And I have to say that I’m very proud that our member companies do practice meritocracy,” said Mr Chua.
As other countries are also eyeing this pool of capable young men, who are very mobile, his advice to Singapore employers - offer them something better. “It is imperative that we provide them career progression as well. And by doing so, we are actually providing them job security and a greater sense of belonging to the organisation.”
Grooming a new generation of middle level managers

   56   57   58   59   60