SINGAPORE - More help is on the way for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) looking for jobs.

Eight new Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP), a scheme which helps workers switch to jobs in a new industry, were launched on Thursday (April 27) by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

These PCPs cover the precision engineering sector for entry and mid-level jobs, and are the latest in a string of initiatives to help workers displaced by the economic downturn and restructuring.

Mr Lim also launched a one-day career fair at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (e2i) for the manufacturing industry, where companies were looking to fill more than 900 jobs.

Speaking at the event, he said manufacturing is one of the engines of economic growth and job creation for Singapore.

Although total employment in the industry has plunged by 42,000 jobs, more than 70 per cent of those jobs were held by foreign work permit holders, he noted.

"Manufacturing continues to offer many good jobs and good career progression for local workers," he said.

The sector, which makes up one-fifth of the economy, employs about 245,000 local workers.

Mr Lim added that the share of PMET jobs in manufacturing has been climbing steadily, and stands at more than 62 per cent now.

The sector has been resurgent - factory output jumped 10.2 per cent in March over the same month last year, mainly due to the electronics cluster where output swelled 37.7 per cent. The precision engineering cluster expanded by 12.8 per cent.

During the event, Mr Lim also launched the SkillsFuture Career Advisor Programme which will see 75 manufacturing industry veterans come onboard as career advisors.

These advisors will be present at job fairs or events to give advice.

One of the career advisors was Ms Valerie Lee, a senior HR director with semiconductor company UCT.

She told reporters it is important for job seekers to have an open mind about working in the manufacturing industry.

"Many locals shy away from manufacturing because they think it's hard work, that they have to work shifts, and will be stuck in a factory," she said.

But the job is not static, as there are chances to move into different areas of a company's operations, such as from production to logistics.

"If the organisation has a global presence, there will also be chances to go abroad," she said.

* This article first appeared in The Straits Times