Published: 27 April 2022
Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner, Singapore Prison Service (SPS),
Mr Phillip Tan, Chairman, Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG),
Mr Matthew Wee, CEO YRSG,
Ms Elise Hong, Chairman, Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA),
Mr Tan Jek Min, Senior Director, Industry & Lifelong Learning, Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP),
My esteemed and beloved colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to all of you. We are here to attend a great and meaningful event. I am very honoured to join you today to celebrate the completion of the inaugural run of the Precision Engineering (PE) course.
Precision Engineering Industry
2. PE is a critical enabler for the manufacturing industry. It supplies crucial products and expertise to manufacture complex components and equipment for industries such as semi-conductors, medical technology, and aerospace. Even our handphones, filtered water and COVID-19 test kits cannot be produced easily without the support of the PE industry. So, a very important industry, and you are very fortunate to be able to learn to go into this part of the industry.
3. In 2019, Singapore’s PE industry employed more than a fifth of the 473,000 workers in the manufacturing sector and contributed approximately $38 billion in total output. It’s a big industry.
Collaboration Between YRSG, NYP and SPETA
4. A strong PE industry is powered by a stream of highly skilled labour. Singapore has been working with Institutes of Higher Learning and research institutes to groom a pool of local workers. PE is also the first manufacturing industry to have an Industry Transformation Map (ITM) and a skills and careers framework for 15 job roles. There are many opportunities in the PE industry.
5. In 2019, as part of the TAP (Train And Place) & Grow initiative, YRSG collaborated with SPETA and NYP to equip inmates with skills for a career in the PE industry.
6. As a result of this collaboration, a training academy equipped with industry grade equipment was set up within prison in September 2021. The academy runs a four-month course conducted by NYP, which will lead to a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Advanced Certificate in PE. Course graduates will continue to be supported after they complete their course. YRSG and SPETA are working together to provide job placement opportunities with over 400 SPETA member companies. The companies are also highly encouraged to send deserving candidates to attend public runs of the WSQ Diploma in PE conducted by NYP.
7. Engagement sessions have been held since September 2020 to generate awareness and acceptance of ex-offenders for employers in the PE industry. A total of 20 employers attended these sessions and had expressed interest to hire the graduates upon release.
8. I am glad that many companies have opened their doors to our ex-offenders and to provide them with the opportunity they need to lead a crime-free life. We have some of the member companies with us today. I am happy that one of them, Yida Precision Engineering, has hired three graduates as machinists. Thank you. I urge more companies to continue offering job opportunities to our remaining graduates.
Reintegration and Acceptance
9. For ex-offenders, being offered a job is that opportunity they need to rebuild their lives and win back the love and trust of those they have let down. This is very important.
10. Just early this morning, I met a group of ex-offenders who are undergoing some community-based programmes. I shared with them that I was going to attend this event today, and I also shared that we are all doing our best to help them – SPS, YRSG and the wider community – as they too, play their part. They were very happy and felt very touched that we are doing all this. These are all very meaningful efforts, and every single step that you take to enhance their lives, open up opportunities for them, really matters. And, it matters not only to them. When I engage community partners and the community at large, they feel heartened to see and know what we do for our ex-offenders. So, I’m sincerely thankful to all of you here for making this effort and easing their rehabilitation and reintegration journey.
11. Later, as part of the programme, you will hear first-hand from a graduate from this programme, whom I shall call “John”. John became interested about the PE industry and its career opportunities during a briefing he attended in prison. He is grateful for this opportunity to embark on a new career and hopes to be an entrepreneur one day. We wish John all the best and we hope he will do well.
12. To the 13 graduates here today, I extend my heartiest congratulations to each of you. I commend your willingness to pick up new skills. It’s not easy, but you have done well. I asked the trainer earlier about how you were doing. He said that you all have very positive attitudes – which is very important. Second, you were very disciplined in and focussed on what you were doing. Third, you showed good competency in all these aspects of the work. These are three very important attributes to succeed in life. I also understand that you were very keen and very interested in your lessons.
13. I commend you on picking up these new skills. The hard work you have put in has paid off and I believe the skills you have acquired would come in useful as you embark on a career in the PE industry.
14. Each of you have started on your rehabilitation and reintegration journey. My hope is that you remain focused, take charge of your rehabilitation journey, and steer clear of drugs and crime. I am confident – and it’s not just me, but all of us here – we are confident that you will do well.
15. Once again, I would like to thank YRSG, SPS, SPETA, NYP and the trainers for their efforts in walking this journey with all of you.
16. Thank you.