SMRT Corp and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) have signed a memorandum to transform the professionalism and career prospects of the bus industry.

A landmark project will be a Bus Career Development Centre at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability that is slated to be ready in about a year, and which will feature 16 simulators. The centre will be open to both public and private bus operators in Singapore, and targets reaching at least 3,000 Singaporean bus drivers in its first three years of operations.

The partnership will also aim at implementing a progressive wage model for SMRT bus staff. There will also be an integrated driving and service control simulator in Jurong East that will allow bus captains to train together with service controllers.

SMRT and e2i are also jointly organising the Bus Carnival and Career Fair over the weekend to take their mission to the public.

"Months of hard work have been put in by all sides to nurture and develop meaningful employment for a pool of professionals with a strong Singaporean core, hence leading to the transformation of the Singapore's bus industry that should lead to safer, better and more reliable bus services by private and public bus operators," SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek said in a statement.

Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, said: "The setting up of the Bus Career Development Centre at our Jurong East campus will enhance preparedness and capabilities of bus drivers as they get integrated training. Both service and safety will be improved for commuters, while bus workers will benefit from better skills and career progressions."

"We welcome the joint initiative by SMRT and e2i for the Bus Career Development Centre to raise the skills levels of bus captains," said Peh Chee Kang, assistant general secretary of the the National Transport Workers Union. "We hope that the use of advanced technology will improve productivity, and correspondingly enhance career progression for bus captains."