One of the key industries and job markets that has benefited from Singapore’s Manufacturing 2030 initiative is the electronics sector.
Manufacturers are still smarting from the microprocessor chip shortage that plagued consumer electronics manufacturers. As such, countries around the world have pivoted towards supporting chip manufacturers locally. China, for example, has revealed plans to splurge US$150 billion to boost the industry recently.
Singapore has also moved towards the same goal. As the world economy gradually moves past pandemic mode and consumer spending rises, the local electronics manufacturing industry is showing good momentum.
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Electronic manufacturing numbers are positive
Data from the Economic Development Board (EDB) showed the biggest growth in manufacturing output in February 2022 came from electronics, which grew by 32.4% on a year-by-year basis, supported by an increase in all segments.
EDB revealed, “In particular, the semiconductors segment grew 39.4%, supported by strong demand from 5G markets and data centres amidst the global chip shortage.
“Overall, the electronics cluster grew 15% in the first two months of 2022 compared to the same period last year,” it added.
Electronics is a key industry for Singapore. It accounted for 40% of manufacturing output in February 2022, and chip production made up nearly a third of output all by itself.
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So what about jobs and career prospects in the sector?
Eileen Ang, the executive director of the Association of Electronic Industries in Singapore (AEIS), said to Workipedia by MyCareersFuture: “The demand for industrial electronics will also continue to grow in the Asia-Pacific region.
“With the development and roll-out of 5G networks in Singapore, and possibly even moving to 6G, this will lead to a growth in demand for skilled technicians and engineers.”
Applications and devices such as mobile phones, radar, consumer electronic products, automotive, medical, defence, aerospace, power, and telecommunications are all dependent on skilled manpower to maintain.
Growth will come from not just industrial demand but also in healthcare and consumer markets. There is a push towards more sophisticated technologies such as electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as an upgrade in the logistics industries towards smart manufacturing and warehousing,
“In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sudden move towards working from home, hybrid roles, and (home-based) learning has also pushed strong sales demand for smartphones, tablets, webcams, and routers. We are expecting the consumer electronics market demand to hit US$4.9 billion by 2028,” Eileen added.
She also shared more on the type of roles that jobseekers should look at in the market:
- Sales Engineers
- Research and Development Engineers
- Product Engineers
- Testing Engineers
- Calibration Engineers
In terms of skillsets and experience for most of these roles, they can be broken down by seniority here:
- Qualifications needed: ITE/Diploma in Electrical/ Mechatronics/ Mechatronics/ Robotics & Smart Systems Engineering or related discipline
- Skills needed: Simple troubleshooting and the ability to interpret technical drawings
- Some experience in soldering and repair of circuit boards and electronics would be useful
- Qualifications needed: Diploma in Electronic Engineering or equivalent studies
- The ability to understand mechanical and machine designs and drawings, schematics, and work procedures
- A minimum of one to three years in a related field or industry
- Qualifications needed: Master/Degree in Electronic Engineering or equivalent studies
- Ideally, you should have a minimum of two to five years in a related field or industry
- You’ll need a good knowledge of programming software
- Depending on each industry requirement, different employers will need specific skill sets. For example, some manufacturers may need employees with experience in printed circuit board (PCB) layouts, or knowledge of layout techniques for radiofrequency circuits in the microwave frequency range
“There is a shortage of skilled and non-skilled technicians going into the electronic printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturing sector, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
She acknowledged that this could be due to the working environment, which may not be as plush as your stereotypical office jobs, and the need to pick up new skills to learn a new trade.
“Ultimately, if you can find the right company or SME to provide a good training and learning process, such roles can be a great stepping stone into other forms of manufacturing jobs as well,” Eileen believes.
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If you’re keen to start a career in the industry, there are work-study courses conducted by the Institute of Technical Education to consider, she recommends.
These will equip trainees with the skills and knowledge to integrate, deploy and manage electronics systems and connectivity. Trainees will also learn to apply artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to achieve continuous process improvement on the job, including the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), automation, data analytics and visualisation.
In addition, there are also career conversion programmes (CCP) by MyCareersFuture that can help you get into the manufacturing sector.
These will help you reskill to take on new jobs, with participating companies employing candidates before they undergo facilitated classroom training, and structured on-the-job training as well! Learn more about them here.