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Aerospace companies looking to fill 1,000 jobs in Singapore over next two years: Tan See Leng

SINGAPORE: Aerospace companies in Singapore are planning to hire 1,000 people over the next two years, as the pandemic-battered sector gears up for new growth opportunities in digital services, autonomous technology and sustainability.

This was announced by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng at the Aerospace Day 2021 on Monday (Oct 11).

One company that recently embarked on a recruitment drive is American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, which plans to add 250 more employees to its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations in Singapore by the end of this year.

“Their cutting-edge aerospace technology capabilities will keep Singapore and our workers on the forefront of the global MRO industry,” said Dr Tan, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry.

Business jet manufacturer Bombardier is looking to fill more than 90 positions as it aims to quadruple its existing footprint in Singapore, while engine-maker GE Aviation is also on the hunt for talent for 200 positions this year.

Among local players, Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering is looking to recruit up to 200 aviation professionals by next year, while Singapore Aero Engine Services is hiring for 170 vacancies to support the growth of its operations.

JTC, which organised Aerospace Day, said in a separate press release that these job openings include data analysts, robotics and automation engineers, as well as aircraft technicians.

“Despite the current challenges that the aviation sector is facing, its fundamentals and long-term prospects remain strong,” said ST Engineering’s commercial aerospace president Jeffrey Lam.

The company continues to invest and review opportunities for the expansion of its capabilities and capacity, including the hiring of aviation professionals to "support in growth areas", he added.

Managing director of GE Aviation Engine Services – Singapore Iain Rodger said the company is “seeing a strong recovery of the aviation sector” as international borders open up progressively and flights resume in “increasing numbers”.

“As a leader in the aircraft engine industry, GE Aviation needs the right engineering talent and workforce to serve our customers’ needs for engines maintenance, repair and overhaul,” he added.

Dr Tan said Singapore has over the years established itself as a “key node” in the global aerospace value chain. Now Asia’s leading aerospace MRO hub, the country accounts for 10 per cent of global MRO output.

But with planes grounded and commercial flights drastically reduced since last year, Singapore’s aerospace industry, which employs more than 22,000 people and predominantly supports commercial aviation, has been reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, Singapore has continued to maintain “a strong base of aerospace activities” with companies exploring new avenues of growth, Dr Tan said in a speech at the event.

He cited how ST Engineering has been repurposing under-utilised passenger aircraft for air cargo.

Last year, the homegrown firm completed the world’s first freighter that was converted from an A321 passenger plane. It offers 55 per cent more capacity than its closest competitor, said Dr Tan.

“As the demand for freighters remains strong, ST Engineering is ramping up its conversion capacity, and will be converting more than 55 aircraft next year,” he added.

THREE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

Dr Tan noted that the longer-term outlook of the aerospace sector is “positive” and there are three key opportunities for growth.

One is the area of digital services where aerospace companies tap the power of big data to monitor aircraft health, predict maintenance schedules, optimise fuel consumption and minimise on-ground delays. This can help airlines and passengers save time and costs.

The minister pointed to Airbus, which officially opened its Singapore Campus at the Seletar Aerospace Park in November last year.

The campus serves as Airbus’ Asia-Pacific regional hub and houses a dedicated team for its digital solutions platform. The company intends to continue to explore collaborations with partners in the region to improve fleet performance, said Dr Tan.

Aerospace original equipment manufacturers can also play a critical role in developing autonomous technologies and advanced communications.

“Most ongoing efforts are concentrated in developing full-fledged autonomy for long-haul commercial flights. If successful, airlines will benefit through reduced operating costs, enhanced pilot decision-making, and safety,” the minister said, noting how local start-up H3 Dynamics partnered with Thales to test an autonomous drone flight monitoring system in Singapore last year. 

Sustainability is the third growth area, said Dr Tan, as aerospace companies explore solutions such as electric propulsion, sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen-powered aircraft.

For instance, Rolls-Royce is partnering Nanyang Technological University to develop electrification technologies to enable hybrid-electric aircraft. This will accelerate the adoption of alternative energy systems in the aerospace industry, the minister said.

Dr Tan added that companies looking to seize these growth opportunities “have a strong talent pool here to tap on”.

This includes certified technicians and engineers, as well as more than 2,000 graduates from various aerospace courses offered by the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities every year.

A career conversion programme is also available to help mid-career professionals keen to enter the sector, he said.

This year’s Aerospace Day was held virtually and attracted 1,800 students and job seekers, said JTC.

As part of the event, aerospace firms set up interactive exhibition booths where participants can directly contact companies’ representatives via a live chat function. The virtual exhibitions will continue to be available for the next two weeks.

In addition to the online programme, JTC is working with companies to host exclusive tours to company facilities in Seletar Aerospace Park at the end of the year.

“The aerospace industry has remained resilient over the last two years and many bright sparks remain within the sector. At Seletar Aerospace Park, we are seeing companies invest in new capabilities and strong hiring interest to build their pipeline of talent,” said JTC’s director of aerospace and marine cluster Lim Ai Ting.

“By bringing the aerospace companies together for Aerospace Day, we hope to showcase the exciting job opportunities available in the sector, and allow talents to better understand the exciting work that the sector offers.”

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Source: CNA/sk

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