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Singapore’s Electronics Industry Transformation Map aims for manufacturing value-add of S$22.2 billion by 2020

Above photo:  JTC nanoSpace @ Tampines/  Credit :JTC

Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Singapore launched the Electronics Industry Transformation Map (ITM[1]) today at the opening of JTC nanoSpace @ Tampines, a semiconductor manufacturing facility.

The ITM was developed by a multi-agency team together with industry partners, unions and trade associations. Through the ITM efforts, the industry is expected to achieve a manufacturing value-add of S$22.2 billion and introduce 2,100 new PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) jobs by 2020.

Starting out with labour-intensive system assembly of consumer products in the 60s, Singapore’s electronics industry has since transformed to the manufacture of high-value components. In 2016, electronics manufacturing contributed 4.4% to Singapore’s GDP, accounting for close to S$90 billion in manufacturing output, and employing about 70,000 workers.

The emergence of new applications areas such as autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and healthcare, which are enabled by electronics, has brought about new growth opportunities for the industry. These new applications are expected to drive greater diversity of demand for electronics and advancements in hardware. To tap into these opportunities, companies are embracing open innovation as a means to co-innovate and co-develop system solutions with their partners.

To prepare Singapore to tap into these global trends and opportunities, the ITM has identified a two-pronged strategy – to diversify into new growth markets, and secondly, to transform the existing base of electronics manufacturing and attract new investments in high-value components.

The ITM will also focus on growing a strong pipeline of local talent, and upgrading the industry associations to better support the industry.

Diversifying into new growth markets

Singapore will convene multi-party innovation platforms, bringing together MNCs, SMEs and public agencies, to create new solutions and shorten innovation cycles.

One example is the Nanyang Polytechnic’s IoT Open Innovation Community, a network that was set up in 2015 with support from SPRING to enable SMEs to connect with technology and commercialisation partners, research institutions and other industry players for co-innovation.

Today, there are more than 150 members on this platform coming together to jointly develop new IoT solutions. More technology platforms will be set up to help companies bring ideas into products.

To better support enterprises, the Government will foster collaborative projects between MNCs, SMEs and startups. They are encouraged to leverage the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT) scheme. Under PACT,  SPRING works with large organisations (LO) to identify and implement collaborative projects between the LO and local SMEs in areas of: knowledge transfer from an LO to at least one SME; capability upgrading of an LO’s new or existing suppliers; and development and test-bedding of innovative solutions between an LO and at least one SME.

Support is available to incubators and accelerators through the Startup SG Accelerator programme by SPRING to catalyse growth opportunities for IoT and electronics startups.

Transforming and growing existing electronics manufacturing base

The objective is to attract high value-add activities and capture new growth areas. The provision of future-ready infrastructure would be key to enabling companies to make investment decisions quickly. JTC nanoSpace is presented as an example of this. The facility, developed in close consultation with the industry, is strategically located within Tampines Wafer Fab Park. It offers a plug-and-play, quick-start space solution that meets the stringent operational requirements of semiconductor manufacturers.

The Government will also work with companies to improve their manufacturing efficiency and adopt advanced manufacturing technologies. This will bring about an increase in manufacturing productivity by reducing operating costs and optimising resources. The ITM targets for 100% of manufacturing plants in Singapore to be best-in-class compared to their global operations. Advanced manufacturing is also expected to bring about new skilled job roles in manufacturing such as system engineers and automation technicians.

Developing talent pipeline

The transformation of the electronics industry is expected to bring about 2,100 new PMET jobs by 2020. To equip Singaporeans with the necessary skills to take on these jobs, SkillsFuture SG (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the economic agencies, together with industry stakeholders such as employers, industry associations, unions, and education and training institutions have launched the Skills Framework for Electronics.

The Skills Framework identifies two career pathways – the technical and engineering track, and the management track – covering 29 job roles, which individuals can explore career growth along or across.

It also provides key information on the sector, and lists the 58 skills and competencies required, that include emerging skills and competencies, and the relevant training programmes for them. Emerging skills and competencies identified include those in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, Data Analytics, Robotics and Automation.

The Skills Framework also informs of other key initiatives which support those in the electronics industry on their skills and career journey. These include the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme, Enhanced Internship, Singapore Industry Scholarships and Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs).

As part of WSG’s Adapt and Grow initiative, PMETs can tap onto the PCPs to help them reskill and transit into a new industry. To support the shift towards higher value jobs, two new PCPs for the Electronics industry were launched today to prepare Singaporean PMETs with the necessary skills and also concurrently reskill talent from other sectors.

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Above image: Archetype of PCP for Electronics Engineer 

The PCP for Electronics Engineer and the PCP for Electronics Assistant Engineer are in addition to four existing PCPs rolled out in 2016 to reskill PMETs for the Wafer Fabrication and Assembly & Test sectors. The four existing PCPs have since benefited close to 130 PMETs.

Salary support is provided during the period of training, for employers on board the PCP to substantially lower their cost of hiring and re-skilling mid-career PMETs.

EDB and WSG will be co-organising an Adapt and Grow Career Fair for the electronics sector on 26 September with 20 companies offering more than 600 job vacancies.

Partnering with trade Associations and chambers

The Government will partner with Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) such as the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) to transform the industry. In support of the ITM, SSIA has set out a three-year plan to transform its charter and expand its resources to better support the industry. SSIA has already taken an active role in key industry programmes such as serving as the administrator of WSG’s PCP. The association has also embarked on a leadership programme to jointly groom the next generation of local leaders for the industry.

[1]Roadmaps are being developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers. The ITMs are grouped into 6 broad cluster: Manufacturing, Built environment, Trade & connectivity, Essential Domestic Services, Modern services and Lifestyle.

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