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More support for firms in precision engineering sector to build partnerships, deepen capabilities

More support for firms in precision engineering sector to build partnerships, deepen capabilities

An employee working at electronics firm Rohde & Schwarz on Nov 16, 2020. (Photo: Ministry of Trade and Industry)

SINGAPORE: Firms in the precision engineering ecosystem will get more support to deepen their capabilities, with enhancements to a scheme meant to foster partnerships among local businesses announced on Monday (Nov 16).

Under the enhanced Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT) scheme, firms can benefit from more funding support for certain costs and an expanded scope of coverage until March 2022.

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to precision engineering firm Rohde & Schwarz, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the move is important because the sector is a bright spot with “huge growth prospects”, amid and beyond COVID-19.

READ: IN FOCUS: After COVID-19, where are the Singapore economy, workforce headed?

“In the coming years, the advent of 5G technologies, the Internet of Things and all the new breakthroughs we see in the technological fields will require a lot of precision engineering behind the scenes,” he said, adding that sectors like biomedicine will also tap this field.

“This is the reason why we are making a strong push to continue to help our companies in this sector - to continue to grow from strength to strength to meet the increasing demand for such products and services,” Mr Chan said.

With the aim of making Singapore a precision engineering hub for the region, the PACT scheme will be enhanced to help firms create more partnerships.

The changes would help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) build more diverse and resilient supply chains, while local suppliers would get to deepen their capabilities and grow their revenue, according to the Trade and Industry Ministry.

OEMs refer to the brand owner of the final product, while suppliers are the firms that provide various components, modules and manufacturing services.

ENHANCEMENTS TO THE 'PACT' SCHEME

First, support rates for qualifying costs will be increased. For all manpower categories, such as training and salaries, these rates will be raised from 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

For other cost categories, including software, materials and consumables and professional services, support rates will go up from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. 

Funding levels for equipment will remain unchanged at 50 per cent.

In addition, beyond supporting the qualification of new suppliers and new products, the scheme will be expanded to cover existing products.

READ: 6,370 job openings in manufacturing, marine and offshore sectors despite downturn

To help expand Singapore’s global footprint, businesses with manufacturing activities overseas will also get funding support for 70 per cent of manpower costs for some of their Singaporean or permanent resident employees.

In addition, they will get support rates of 50 per cent for consumables needed for the qualification of specified operations.

There are currently 16 partnership projects in the works between original equipment manufacturers and suppliers that may benefit from the enhancements.

The changes will also apply to other sectors covered by PACT, such as food manufacturing, retail and food services.

Since PACT was set up in 2010, more than 280 projects have come under the scheme, benefitting more than 1,500 Singapore-based firms.

CULTIVATING LOCAL ENGINEERING TALENT

Mr Chan also reiterated that engineering talent must be groomed “on a sustained basis over the long-haul”, which is why such investment must continue “notwithstanding the short-term challenges faced because of COVID-19 or political tensions".

According to a jobs situation report on Sep 14, more than 270 precision engineering firms have offered close to 1,500 jobs, traineeships and attachment opportunities since April - the majority of which are PMET positions.

READ: Nearly 1,500 opportunities offered in precision engineering sector under SGUnited programme: MOM

Pointing to this, Mr Chan said: “We are very heartened that many companies, including Rohde & Schwarz, have played their part to uplift the precision engineering ecosystem by continuing in the development skills upgrading for our workers.”

He also cited how the firm had achieved a localisation rate of about 80 per cent to undertake critical functions such as research and development.

Mr Chan added that the ministry will continue to work closely with industrial partners and trade associations to ensure that Singapore has core engineering talent for the long haul.

Source: CNA/cl(gs)

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