Rolls-Royce of growth sectors hits speed bump
IT COULD be one of the hottest sectors of the future, growing six times as fast as other segments of the economy.
The problem is that there are just not enough takers for these well-paying jobs, because workers have not trained for them.
For the Stem sector, that is the root of the problem.
Stem - which stands for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector - offers good prospects and decent wages.
Bicky Bhangu, senior country manager at Rolls-Royce Singapore, told My Paper: "If you look at an industry like ours, which is very technical (and) requires a broad range of skill sets... The need for Stem is increasing at a very fast rate.
"The concern is that there is a gap between the supply and demand for Stem-related workers."
Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, agreed. He noted that the Stem sector - which the Economic Development Board estimates will create between 14,000 and 16,000 new jobs this year - will be the "hot sector" of the future, but admitted that there is a shortage of Stem workers even in the small- and medium-sized industries.
"Stem courses like engineering are tougher. The training is tremendous," said Mr Wee. "Not everyone is capable or up to it, but it is integral to our advancement."
The Government has also recognised this.
On Monday, the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee announced 10 key recommendations to strengthen technical and vocational education, and provide more career pathways for those who have completed basic studies at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics.
But Dr Bhangu feels that one of the main obstacles preventing students or graduates from joining the Stem sector is the lack of awareness on what the tangible outputs of the industry are.
"It's not just about going out and reaching out from just a communications perspective. It's also reaching out and showing them the kind of skills and activities we do, so that they can relate to why Stem is actually important," he pointed out.
To that end, Rolls-Royce is starting new activities for students. It will roll out a Stem Ambassador Programme later this year, where key experts within Stem fields will be identified to become mentors and talk to students about career opportunities available in Stem industries.
It will also launch the Science Investigator Badge and workshop for Brownies, where 64 Brownies and 20 Girl Guides will visit the Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus for scientific activities and experiments.
Rolls-Royce Singapore currently has 940 direct hires, with over 40 per cent of them being ITE and polytechnic graduates.
One of them is senior technician Parameswaran Subramanian, an ITE graduate who has been with the company for three years.
The 36-year-old was part of the team that developed the Trent 900 engine used on the Airbus A380.
He urged others not to shy away from the sector, saying: "A lot of people think that being a technician is a job where you'll get your hands dirty but I would encourage them to try the industry first, instead of putting this misconception in their minds."