Energising the Power sector

How do we meet the need for an additional 2,400 technical professionals in the Power sector over the next decade?

Sum Kun Shan EMA's CE Ng Wai Choong (second from right) looks on at some of the initiatives that will form the building blocks to build our energy future and the Power sector's talent pool. (To his left are Mr U Popathi, EMA's Senior Principal Technical Executive and EMA Branch Chairman for the Amalgamated Union of Statutory Board Employees. To the left-most is Mr Nachiappan RK Sinniah, General Secretary of the Union of Power and Gas Employees.)

A National Energy Competency Framework (NECF) will go a long way to mapping out the needs of the industry and guiding the Power sector to attract, retain and develop talent.

In his keynote address at the fifth Energy Forum on 11 June, Mr Ng told the audience of industry leaders and businessmen that the Framework "outlines the career progression opportunities and competencies required for the various professionals within the Power sector. Job-seekers, students and educators can learn more about the career pathways, opportunities and outreach activities in the sector".

The NECF is accessible at the new Powering Lives portal [www.poweringlives.sg].

Like Singapore, the Power sector has progressed and evolved through the years, moving forward by drawing lessons from the past. This is evidenced by the various programmes launched under the national SkillsFuture initiative. One such example is the Earn and Learn Programme, which gives fresh graduates from ITE and polytechnics a headstart in the Power sector. Incentives range from a $5,000 sign-on perk for trainees to training grants of up to $15,000 for employers.

These were announced at the Energy Forum by Mrs Lek-Lim Geok Choo, Director of the Electrical Engineering division at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. She has been appointed the SkillsFuture Sector Coordinator for the power engineering sector.

Also complementing the NECF is the industry-led Singapore Institute of Power and Gas (SIPG). Launched in 2014, the SIPG serves as a centralised training institute for the Power sector. The first courses are expected to roll out by September this year.

In tandem with SIPG, EMA had earlier established a $20 million Energy Training Fund to build a strong core of Singaporean technical professionals for the sector. The fund will facilitate the development of new power-related programmes for EMA-approved training providers. The fund will also co-share training costs with companies sending in their technical employees for EMA-approved training programmes.

Together, the NECF, Powering Lives portal and SIPG mark the full implementation of the recommendations set out by the Power Sector Manpower Taskforce. Set up to attract, retain and develop the Power sector workforce, the taskforce’s recommendations were accepted by the Government in 2013.

The Energy Forum concluded with a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between SIPG, the Centre for Energy Research and Technology at the National University of Singapore, and Singapore Test Services. The agreement will allow the parties to build knowledge and nurture competencies in grid-level energy storage. This is expected to play a critical role in managing solar intermittency and enabling ancillary services such as frequency regulation.