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First carpentry cohort gets certified
by Yeo Sam Jo (email@example.com)
The Straits TimesWednesday, Nov 12, 2014
MR TITUS Tan had always been interested in woodwork, but a dearth of carpentry courses led him to pursue a diploma in information technology instead.
After working as an IT systems engineer for three years, he realised his "second choice" was not for him. He enrolled in a creative craftsman apprenticeship scheme and fulfilled his dream in April when he became a furniture craftsman at interior construction firm Facility Link.
"I'm a hands-on person," Mr Tan, 26, said. "I feel a great sense of achievement when I complete a product."
Mr Tan was among 18 trainees, aged 24 to 66, who yesterday became the first graduates of the six-month place-and-train programme.
Set up by the labour movement, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) in February, the programme trains apprentices in carpentry skills.
It guarantees them a minimum starting pay of $1,600 with pledging companies upon completion of training. And as they become more skilled, their salaries can rise to more than $3,000.
A new carpentry training campus at Yishun Industrial Park A to house the programme was also officially opened yesterday. The 418 sq m facility, approved by the Polytechnic of Western Australia, has two classrooms and eight work stations that can be used by 32 people at a time.
The programme and campus are part of a larger move to promote the traditional trade of carpentry among Singaporeans.
"Singapore faces a shortage of skilled local carpenters," said Mr Neo Sia Meng, chairman of the SFIC Institute.
"By providing a conducive learning environment and comprehensive education at the (campus), we hope to introduce more young Singaporeans to the art of furniture craftsmanship."
There are nearly 20,000 workers in the furniture trade but no official figures for the number of carpenters, most of whom are from Malaysia and China.
The lack of interest among locals in a profession many consider arduous and low-paying is especially worrying, given that the furniture industry is expanding.
According to the SFIC, the industry has a projected worth of $6.34 billion this year, up from $5.74 billion in 2012.
Singapore also contributes 1.05 per cent of the world's furniture production.
Labour chief Lim Swee Say, who was at yesterday's campus opening, said the traditional solution to "less popular" jobs like carpentry has been to hire more foreigners.
But he warned against such an approach, saying: "In time to come, we may lose that skill set in our local workforce."
Pointing to the efforts to promote carpentry, he said: "At the end of the day, we believe every job can be transformed into a better job, every worker can be transformed into a better worker."
So far, 22 companies have pledged to take part in the carpentry programme, and about 160 more Singaporeans are expected to undergo the training in the next 1 1/2 years.
Three of the 18 graduates of the first furniture craftsmen programme are (from left) Mr Chen Teck Wah, 45, ~ Mr Sulaiman Suib, 56, ~ and Mr Muhammad Iszad Razali, 27.
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Singapore Workforce Development Agency
WDA Programmes To Give More Job And Training Guidance For Workers
More career coaches and quality training providers to help them move up ladder
By: Amelia Tan And Marissa Lee | 22 Sep 2014
Workers will get more help in choosing jobs and charting their careers through a range of programmes by national training body Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
There will be more career coaches, a new online portal with job information as well as quality training providers to help them move up in their careers, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.
Some of these moves will start as early as secondary school to help prepare Singaporeans for the future needs of the economy.
"Even when you're in secondary school, it's good to have a vague idea of what your strengths are, what your aptitudes are, what you might be interested in," he said.
"Not choosing a course based on what your A-level scores qualify you for, what your GPAs (grade point averages) qualify you for - choosing a course based on your interest, what you feel you will be interested enough to keep learning, to keep progressing on, and to apply yourself with passion in."
WDA chief executive Ng Cher Pong said the aim is to get individuals to "take responsibility and ownership for their own career and skills planning".
To do this, a one-stop job and training portal will be launched.
This website will provide information on jobs and advice on how workers can progress in their careers with training. Workers will get a better idea of their strengths and interests through self-profiling tests and games at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar.
More career coaches will be hired to ensure that workers get career guidance and advice on training. There will also be more online courses rolled out so that workers can learn at their own pace while juggling their work duties.
WDA will work with employers to roll out structured on-the-job training programmes for workers. Firms will be asked to develop standardised benchmarks for workers' skills. This will help guide workers in upgrading skills and charting their career paths.
WDA will determine if workers meet these benchmarks through "application-based and outcomes- driven" tests, said Mr Ng.
Mr Gilbert Tan, chief executive of the National Trades Union Congress' training arm e2i, agreed that training workers to pick up skills needed by the industry will convince bosses to give them time to go for courses.
"Training should be conducive ... to business operations, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises," he said.