Industry Insight - Engineering | Skilled resources difficult to find

by James Tang

The industry is already saturated with engineers and architects, but is severely lacking in engineering support staff, a number of which is required to support a principle engineer in an ongoing project.

The engineering industry works on a primarily project-driven basis, so there are often several periods when companies experience spikes in workload and a corresponding lack of skilled manpower to handle the additional work. This creates a highly stressful environment for the employees, and companies may face the problem of talent retention if this problem is not arrested.

The challenge we see is that there are many fresh graduates that make up the Singapore job market, but the industry needs experienced CAD (Computer-Aided Drafting) engineering support staff to work on projects on a tight deadline. During crunch time, there is very little time for on-the-job training. During a lull period, it does not make economic sense to hire support staff as there is no demand in terms of workload for their services.

Also, our observation with the local education system is that the emphasis is on training engineers, rather than filling the gap by training engineering support staff, who are just as important to a project. For example, our local polytechnics and vocational institutes have recently  scaled down their training hours in CAD while the local Universities do not place emphasis on CAD skills. Foreign talent was once relied upon to  fill this gap; however, the government has recently tightened the Singapore recruitment criteria for work passes, worsening what the industry already sees as a bottleneck.

To support engineering companies during their crunch times, we provide them with skilled resources on a non-permanent basis, depending on their project requirements. We spent more than 10 years improving and perfecting our training system so that both fresh graduates and  mid-career switchers will be successful in the engineering industry even if they have no prior experience. For the first three months, our staff undergo intensive CAD lessons and hands-on practices in our offices. After that we place them on an Industrial Attachments Programme (IAP) with our clients so that our trainees get to apply their newly-gained CAD skills under the guidance of our senior staff. The IAP helps trainees to get a feel of the demanding work environment but at the same time, they will always have someone to guide them.

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