The aerospace industry is on the upswing, having regained ground after a turbulent couple of years. According to the International Air Transport Association, global air traffic demand in May rebounded to pre-recession levels, and has continued to experience strong growth since.

This bodes well for Singapore, whose goal is to become a leading transport hub. Now consider this: companies here now expand and undertake an even wider range of activities, including manufacturing, headquarter services, training and research and development (R&D), which continue to be key drivers for Singapore’s growth.

For Singapore to maintain its competitive edge on global and regional fronts, the nation’s workforce needs to possess a diverse range of skill sets to keep pace with developments.

To this end, constant improvement and upgrading of the workforce is necessary. Singapore, through agencies such as the Economic Development Board and A*Star, is committed to helping companies grow their R&D capabilities.

From a workforce perspective, training should therefore evolve and change accordingly. One way of gauging a company’s commitment to training is to take a look at the amount of infrastructure in which it has invested.

In that sense, Singapore’s aerospace sector is heavily invested in developing talent, both in the public and private sectors.

In light of this, here are some pointers job-seekers in the aerospace and marine industries can use to stay ahead of the curve.

Focus on productivity

As the 2010 Budget speech outlined, productivity has become a defining factor in Singapore’s business landscape. This emphasises the need for today’s worker to take on a wider scope of roles in more efficient ways than before.

To extract more output from the existing workforce, employers in the public and private sectors are creating opportunities for workers to engage in continual skills upgrading.

The result is an increased uptake in skills upgrading programmes, and what was once perceived as “value-added” is now a necessity. While this scenario may sound daunting, job-seekers should see the advantages of professional development and look for potential employers who offer such training programmes.  

Know the resources

 The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has a range of training programmes under its Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programme, which caters to the individual as well as companies.

Aerospace-related modules alone number more than 50, with topics such as aircraft maintenance, component repair and overhaul, and engine component repair.

These initiatives aim to support the growing manpower needs of the aerospace industry and help aerospace professionals move up the value chain.

Workers should capitalise on this. Rolls-Royce has partnered with WDA and SIA Engineering Company to use the existing Aerospace Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework as leverage to define and promote new skill-sets for Singapore’s aerospace industry.

The upcoming Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus will house a Regional and Training Conference Centre (RTCC), which will open up even more training avenues.

Start early

 Look out for opportunities in school. It is common practice for companies to collaborate with educational institutions. This is a symbiotic relationship that equips schools to train the next generation of employees to meet the industries’ objectives.

These come in the form of research initiatives, work placement schemes or any other form of academia-industry collaboration.

To illustrate, Rolls-Royce works with the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Institute of Technical Education on research initiatives and programmes that will equip graduates with the skill-sets that benefit the industry.

Such programmes allow the company to address the needs of the industry and provide access to a ready pool of talent.

These are ideal platforms for companies to source for or train promising talent; and students should not overlook the various programmes available. 

Think long-term when seeking employment. Potential employees should look for companies that offer their staff ample opportunity for growth. Good training programmes allow an individual to develop professionally.

In 2008, Rolls-Royce provided employees with 3,400 days of leadership training, 39,000 hours of online learning and 4,600 days of engineering systems training.

The Group currently spends up to £2 million (S$4.17 million) every month in training and development. One such development initiative is the graduate leadership programme, which consists of a series of placements that allow the candidate to experience various aspects of working with Rolls-Royce so as to develop a thorough understanding of the business.

The company also gives outstanding trainees the opportunity of overseas secondments to countries in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the Middle-East, or attachments to Rolls-Royce’s UK and US facilities to develop their technical skills, and gain valuable global exposure.