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Speech at the launch of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health, Nestle R&D Centre

Dr Tan Sze, Managing Director, Nestle R&D Centre Singapore,
Mr Goh Eng Ghee, Acting Chief Executive, Singapore Workforce Development Agency,
Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO, Singapore Polytechnic,
Mr Thomas Pek, President, Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

  1. Good morning. I am indeed pleased to attend today’s launch of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing. Just last month, I witnessed the launch of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme at the Lifelong Learning Institute. Today, we will see the first sectoral rollout of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme.

    Singapore’s Food Manufacturing Industry
  2. Singapore’s food manufacturing industry has been a significant component of our growing economy. In 2013 , the industry contributed S$9.1 billion of manufacturing output and employed more than 29,000 workers across Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) as well as Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). There are about 840 companies operating across more than 17 industry sub-sectors including flavourings, sauces, ready meals, noodles, sausages, confectionery and more. With our strategic location, world-class infrastructure and connectivity, skilled manpower and reputation for high quality standards, Singapore is well-positioned to become the next food manufacturing hub with a growing number of international enterprises having operations here.
  3. The local food manufacturing industry is aiming to move higher up the value chain, with food science and technology gaining importance as industry players intensify their R&D efforts. Local food manufacturers are investing in R&D for more first-in-the-market products, and enhancing their processes and packaging for better quality products with longer shelf-life.
  4. Food manufacturers are also placing greater focus on new technologies and higher-order skills to enhance their operational processes. Specifically, they are looking to boost their capabilities in food product innovation, quality control and assurance, and food processing technologies. The SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing will help equip our people with these skills.

    SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing
  5. The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and Singapore Polytechnic (SP), with support from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and SPRING Singapore, have jointly developed the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing. This work-study programme has been designed to match food manufacturers with fresh polytechnic graduates in related fields. From the industry’s perspective, the programme strengthens the local talent pipeline for food technologists, food processing engineers and quality assurance officers. From the fresh graduates’ perspective, it provides a career headstart through industry-relevant training and on-the-job training (OJT), leading to industry-recognised certification.
  6. A key component of this particular programme is the Advanced Diploma in Applied Food Science awarded by SP. It is conducted over 18 months and focused on three key areas – Food Product Innovation, Food Processing as well as Food Safety and Quality Management. Trainees will undergo classroom learning at SP, in-house structured training at their workplace and undertake a company-specific project (known as a capstone project) supervised by company mentors and SP facilitators.
  7. The OJT component of the programme has been developed by SP, NYP and TP, as in-house structured training plans that correspond to the three key areas. The OJT allows trainees to obtain practical experience in the companies’ laboratories or production floor and deepen their skills acquired from the Advanced Diploma in Applied Food Science. In addition, the capstone project allows them to apply their knowledge, analytical and trouble-shooting skills specific to their area of work.
  8. Participants can expect a starting salary of at least $1,900 and may receive a 10% wage increment subjected to their performance upon completion of the programme, and many progress to become Senior Food Technologists, Senior Food Process Engineers or Senior Food Quality Assurance Officers.

    Bridging the gap between work and studies
  9. The pilot run of the programme kicked off last week with an inaugural batch of 20 participants at 12 companies.
  10. One of them is Ms Nur Afiqah Binte Mohammad Yusof, who works here at Nestle R&D Centre as a Food Product and Process Specialist. Ms Nur recently graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition, and was a student intern here from April to August 2014. She enjoyed her internship stint so much that she joined Nestle after her graduation to deepen her skills under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme.
  11. Another participant is Ms Vinny Ho Yu Xuan, who holds a Diploma in Food Science and Technology from Singapore Polytechnic. She works as a Food Technologist at The Soup Spoon, where she seeks to enhance her knowledge and widen her experience through the work-study programme. The Soup Spoon is one example of how local SMEs can leverage on the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme as part of their talent attraction and development strategy.
  12. Another participant, Ms Jocelyn Koh Phuay Shuang, graduated with a Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition from NYP. Ms Koh works as an Assistant Product Innovation Specialist at Faesol, another local SME, and looks forward to working with her colleagues to develop innovative food solutions for food companies.

    Manufacturing scholarship programme
  13. As part of a manpower and skills development plan, WDA is also working on other initiatives to complement the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing. One of these is a collaboration with Newcastle University on a Manufacturing STEP Scholarship programme. This is a two-year research-based Masters programme for Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) to develop capabilities beyond their current functions. Scholarship recipients will work on an industry research project of strategic importance to their company, jointly supervised by the company and Newcastle University.
  14. In other words, the scholars will continue to support the company’s operation while they pursue their Master’s degree. WDA has set aside a total of $888,000 to support up to 12 scholarships. Food companies such as Nestle and Sensorcraft Technology will be tapping on the Manufacturing STEP Scholarship programme to groom their future leaders.

  15. In conclusion, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for Food Manufacturing represents a structured and progressive career advancement and skills upgrading pathway for polytechnic graduates. I would like to urge more companies and polytechnic students to come on board the programme. Besides strengthening the manpower capabilities of industry players, the programme also helps individuals to advance in their careers through skills mastery.
  16. Finally, I would also like to express my appreciation to companies, polytechnics, universities, associations and government agencies that have collaborated on this SkillsFuture initiative. I would also like to call upon all Singaporeans, employers and students to embrace and join in the national SkillsFuture effort to foster deep skills in the workforce, and be part of Singapore’s transformation into an advanced economy and an inclusive society.
  17. Thank you.