Workforce Singapore’s Adapt and Grow programmes can open doors to new career opportunities

By Hafiz Rasid      


In 2015, global oil prices dropped to an 11-year low due to a worldwide glut in supply.

This, according to energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie, resulted in retrenchments in the oil industry that amounted to a trillion US dollars.

Mr Abu Bakar, 51, is one of the thousands of workers who were affected by the turn of affairs.

Mr Bakar, who has been a field technician in the oil and gas industry since 1987, was made redundant in 2015.


Starting afresh

After repeated unsuccessful attempts to find a full-time job, he applied for the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP), which is one of the Adapt and Grow initiatives by Workforce Singapore (WSG).

Last February, he became part of the first batch of workers in the company GE Aviation to be hired under the PCP.

As Mr Bakar had no prior experience in the aerospace industry, he underwent a 10-week full-time training programme — seven hours a day, five days a week — to pick up new skills to become a technician in the sector.

Today, he is an aircraft engine component repair technician with GE Aviation.

Says Mr Bakar: “It’s a challenge for someone my age to join a completely new industry, learn new things and adjust to a new work environment. 

“The PCP enabled me to make the transition to my new role, and be reskilled from the oil and gas industry to that of aerospace.”

He says WSG’s PCP for Engine Repair and Overhaul Technician, offered by GE Aviation is helpful in offering mid-career individuals opportunities to enter the aerospace industry through structured classroom and practical training with experienced trainers and mentors.


Adapt and Grow

WSG’s Adapt and Grow suite of programmes can help open new doors to a fulfilling career.

Apart from PCP, other WSG initiatives include the Career Support Programme (CSP), Work Trial, Jobs Bank and Careers Connect.

Last year, more than 25,000 job seekers were hired through the Adapt and Grow programme.

Out of these, 60 per cent were for missed matches where jobseekers are ready for work but have not yet been matched with suitable jobs available; and 40 per cent for mismatches, where there is a mismatch in skills or wages so there is a need for reskilling or subsidy on the cost incurred by employers in hiring a more experienced individual.

Those who find it hard to get a full-time job can tap on suitable programmes under Adapt and Grow initiatives such as PCP and CSP to get back into the job market.

PCP provides professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) with opportunities to reskill and learn new competencies to start a new career.

Job seekers can be placed with employers in more than 100 types of PCPs across more than 30 growth sectors.

Those who are selected can either undergo sectoral training for their respective roles, or company-specific training.

The training typically ranges between three and 24 months, depending on the job requirements.


Bridging the gap

The CSP is a salary support programme that encourages employers to hire Singapore citizens who are PMETs but have been made redundant or unemployed, and have been actively looking for jobs for at least six months.

It offers job seekers access to mid-level PMET jobs, and provides employers who are hiring such workers with additional salary support.

CSP links experienced PMETs with employers looking to fill suitable vacancies in their companies.

The programme opens up more opportunities in mid-level jobs and provides employers with salary support of up to a maximum of 18 months for each employee, thereby reducing their financial burden. 

CSP beneficiary Denis Koh, 45, believes that such initiatives are much needed in today’s economy as they benefit employers and job seekers alike.

Mr Koh was a co-founding partner of a marine offshore oil and gas company that was eventually acquired by a listed group in 2009.

After the depressed market led to his retrenchment, he found it challenging to find a new job that matched his last-drawn salary.

As luck would have it, Mr Koh met up with a friend working at United Resources Marketing Services, who told him about a job opportunity in the company in 2016.

Due to his high salary, the company found it challenging to hire him. But when he informed them of the CSP, things started to fall into place.

Says Mr Koh: “After United Resources Marketing Services learned how they could tap on the programme, they offered me a job. It was a win-win for me and the employer.”

After both parties were in agreement with regard to Mr Koh’s suitability and the terms entailed, it took less than a month for his, and the company’s CSP application, to be approved.

Today, Mr Koh is the general manager (projects and services) of the company.

He says that as the job market remains challenging, PMETs are at risk of being displaced. As they are likely to find it the hardest to get back into their preferred industries, many will have to take drastic pay cuts.

“Experienced PMETs have valuable work experience that enables them to guide the younger generation,” adds Mr Koh.

“The CSP offered me a second chance and an opportunity for my employer to tap on my wealth of experience.”