More help will be given to local mid-career job seekers to move into new roles in Singapore’s biomedical science sector, even as the nation continues to position itself as a regional hub to draw in investments and jobs in this area.
For example, some 300 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) are expected to benefit from an 18-month professional conversion programme launched yesterday to prepare them for jobs in this sector, which has remained a bright spot amid the recession-hit economy. These include roles such as biotechnologists, production engineers and process development engineers.
And even as Singapore looks to building up a skilled workforce in the biomedical science industry, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday that efforts are also under way to anchor this sector here, to create new opportunities for businesses.
The Republic will not compete with others based on the cost of its labour and land, or the size of its domestic market. Instead, it will do so on other fronts which have become more important amid this pandemic, he said during a press conference yesterday.
These include, for example, the nation’s ability to provide consistent and coherent long-term policies that provide predictability to investors, its emphasis on standards and skills, its geographical and digital connectivity, and its global outlook.
“Singapore adopts a proactive, forward-leaning posture, and we will enable all enterprises here to keep their promises to the rest of the global supply chain,” he said.
“We will not nationalise any of this for our own purposes, neither will we impose export restriction for our own benefit, but to the detriment of the global supply chain.”
Asked how Singapore will balance this commitment with the needs of its population, such as in terms of vaccine doses, Mr Chan said the two are not mutually exclusive. “In fact, the more we are able to attract investments to serve the global markets, the greater the opportunities to secure access to all these critical medicines and vaccines and so forth for our own population.”
A vaccine co-developed by Singapore researchers is undergoing human trials here. The Lunar-Cov19 vaccine is one of 31 vaccine candidates globally which have received approval for trials on humans. Some 142 other vaccine candidates are still at a pre-clinical stage.
Mr Chan was speaking to the media during a visit to the Asia-Pacific headquarters of American medical technology firm Becton Dickinson, during which updates on the manufacturing sector – which biomedical science falls under – were given. The biomedical science sub-sector continues to be a bright spot in the Singapore economy, even though output from biomedical manufacturing can be volatile from month to month.
Data out yesterday showed that biomedical manufacturing output shrank 24.8 per cent last month compared with the same period last year, for a second straight month of decline.
But the Manpower Ministry had, in its job situation report, noted that the sector employs around 25,000 workers and continues to hire. The new professional conversion programme will help to meet this increased manpower demand, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who was at yesterday’s event.
Workforce Singapore and Singapore Economic Development Board worked with industry stakeholders, as well as Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, to develop the Professional Conversion Programme for Advanced Biopharmaceuticals Manufacturing Professionals and Executives.
Trainees will undergo full-time training, which comprises three months of classroom training at either of the two polytechnics, and 15 months of structured on-the-job training attachment with host firms.
The new scheme replaces the former Attach-and-Train programme for biologics manufacturing, which was launched in November 2018 and has helped 185 people enter the biomedical science sector.