Electronics and manufacturing
The electronics and manufacturing industry is the backbone of Singapore’s economy. In 2008, electronics was the major industry that underpinned Singapore’s economic growth, contributing an output of approximately S$68bil and employing more than 90,000 workers. Likewise, Singapore’s manufacturing industry contributed to about a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed approximately 21% of its workforce in 2007.
Gearing towards a more knowledge-intensive manufacturing base, companies are investing in research and development (R&D) capabilities. Infineon is focusing on wafer fabrication and Integrated Chip (IC) design and plans to grow its R&D team to 550 engineers. FormFactor is investing US$200mil to produce wafer probe cards in Singapore, which will create 1,000 jobs in engineering, logistics and procurement.
Growth opportunities still abound, with emerging markets like China and India driving the demand for consumer electronics, automotive and mechanical products. High-value manufacturing in niche areas such as medical technology and aerospace are also expanding in scope locally. Companies such as Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney and ST Aerospace are slated to operate within the new Seletar Aerospace Park and will provide employment opportunities for aeronautical engineers and technicians.
Facts and figures
While there has been a recent slowdown in consumer electronics and precision engineering due to the economic meltdown, investor sentiments still remain upbeat.
Electronics output is projected to double from about $60bil in 2003 to about $120bil in 2018. Correspondingly, value added will more than double from about $12bil in 2003 to about $25bil in 2018. Similarly, Singapore aims to double manufacturing output to $300bil by 2018, as well as create 15,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector and another 6,500 spin-off jobs in the services sector each year.
Key electronics sectors include:
- computer peripherals, data storage and manufacturing services
- electronic modules and components
- infocomm products
- consumer electronics.
Major players in the Singaporean electronics industry include:
- Avago Technologies
- Chartered Semiconductor
- Infineon Technologies
- STATS ChipPAC
- Eastman Kodak
- Showa Denko
- Venture Corporation
- Hitachi Chemical
- Panasonic Electronic Devices
- Sony Corporation
- Panasonic AVC.
Graduates can expect to find work as:
- Associate engineer: This entry-level position assists engineers in the qualification and fine-tuning of processes, equipment maintenance and troubleshooting equipment breakdown. You may also have the opportunity to train technicians in carrying out failure analysis tests and procedures. A minimum diploma in electronics, microelectronics engineering or electrical engineering is required. Starting salary from S$2,100 a month.
- Product engineer: This position provides you with the responsibilities of translating technology from design to manufacturing. Part of your work entails organising resources and managing product schedules, and you will also be expected to supervise a team of engineering assistants and production staff. Typically, good performers are considered for management positions, as engineers have a solid understanding of the company’s operations and have strong analytical skills. A minimum degree in electrical or mechanical engineering is required. Starting salary from $3,200.
Other areas of manufacturing
Employers in other important manufacturing sectors include:
- medical technology
- engineering services
- environmental technology.
Major players in the Singaporean manufacturing industry include:
- Makino Asia
- Meiban Group
- Amtek Engineering
- Honeywell Aerospace
- Air Actuators Singapore
- Exxon Mobil
- Mitsui Chemicals
- Keppel Offshore & Marine
- Sembcorp Marine.
Work options in other areas of manufacturing for graduates include:
- R&D engineers: You will specialise in the development and design of complex equipment for high-value industries. Good career progression prospects as the demand for R&D engineers is expected to increase with the addition of new high-value companies in the equipment sub-sector. Most companies require at least a degree in a relevant field of engineering. A Master’s or a PhD is an advantage. Starting salary will be about $3,000 a month.
- Process engineers: A process engineer should have good people management skills, comprehensive knowledge of manufacturing/operational process engineering and the ability to define problems, collect data and draw conclusions. Skill sets are highly transferable across the entire chemicals value chain. A degree in chemical engineering or relevant discipline is a prerequisite. Starting salary will be about $3,000 a month.
- Marine engineer: This position gives you the opportunity to design, operate, maintain and repair the mechanical systems of ships. Typical employers include offshore and marine engineering companies a well as marine equipment suppliers. Progression for good performers can be management positions, senior engineers or as consultants. A diploma or degree in marine or ocean engineering will be required. The mean gross starting salary for diploma holders is approximately $2,100 a month, while degree holders can expect $2,400-$2,900 a month.