Rail engineering is the backbone of Singapore’s railway industry. The opening of the Singapore Rail Academy (SGRA) is a major step to build on the country’s solid foundations, to nurture a Singaporean talent pool with not only deep technical expertise, but also cross-functional capabilities.
The inaugural Public Transport Awards held, also celebrated the achievements of 47 individuals in skills development and continuous learning. The award recipients included students in the local IHLs as well as in-service engineers and technical staff.
The opening of the SGRA is a major milestone in the country’s continued investments to skill, up-skill and re-skill its railway workforce. It will collaborate with tripartite partners and highly-regarded institutions locally and from abroad, to build upon its rail research capabilities, certify the proficiencies of railway professionals, and promote careers in the rail industry.
As Singapore expands its rail network and engineers will be needed to maintain upkeep, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said at the launch, “More than 15,000 system engineers will be needed by 2030, which will be an increase of 60 percent up from the current 9,030 engineers employed by the LTA, as well as two rail operators, SMRT and SBS Transit.”
To reach the two goals of rail expansion and rail reliability, Singapore has to grow the pool of engineering expertise, he added.
On this occasion, LTA has signed two memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to facilitate SGRA’s work. The first MOU with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) affirms the commitment of both parties to attract, retain, and develop the local rail industry workforce.
The second MoU is an effort to advance and build systems engineering capabilities in the region. The Land Transport Authority (LTA), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), a US-based not-for-profit membership organisation entered into a MoU to launch Singapore Rail Academy. This partnership will support development of skilled manpower in systems engineering through pre-employment training and continuing education and training programmes.
Through this agreement, the LTA, SIT and INCOSE intend to develop skilled manpower in systems engineering to support local public transport manpower requirements. Also the three parties will jointly support development of an applied learning curriculum based on industrial developments for Pre-Employment Training (PET) and Continuing Education and Training (CET) programmes to groom system engineers and better prepare them to be industry-ready.
To promote collaboration in education and research, LTA will work with SIT’s systems engineering group on rail systems research and development, and share domain knowledge on rail systems engineering. SIT will plan and deliver systems engineering training for working professionals from LTA and other practising engineers.
INCOSE will collaborate with SIT to identify relevant content for education and training in systems engineering. It will also facilitate professional certification by helping SIT students to become Associate Systems Engineering Professionals (ASEPs) and Certified Systems Engineering Professionals (CSEPs).
As LTA works towards doubling the nation’s MRT network to 360km by 2030, demand for railway operations and maintenance jobs will increase significantly. With the MoU, SGRA and e2i intend to develop targeted programmes to enlarge and professionalise Singapore’s local rail engineering core.
SGRA has collaborated with e2i to develop a training programme called, the Career On-boarding for Railway Engineering (CORE) programme. The CORE programme aims to up-skill engineers and technicians as they begin their careers in the rail sector, and to support the transition of mid-career entrants into the rail industry. e2i will provide training grants to eligible CORE programme participants.
Mr Gilbert Tan, Chief Executive Officer of e2i, said: “SGRA is an important milestone for e2i, LTA and Public Transport Operators to develop training and placement for rail professionals. Through bridging programmes such as CORE to equip local engineers and technicians with knowledge and expertise, we endeavour to deepen rail engineering capabilities. e2i is committed to support PTOs to build a pool of qualified and competent workers and help Singaporeans join and progress in the sector.”
The first batch of about 30 engineers from SBS Transit, SMRT and LTA attended the inaugural three-day foundation module conducted from 9 to 11 Jan 2017. This foundation module covers industry-wide topics such as the regulatory and financing aspects of the rapid transit system in Singapore, design thinking in the upstream of the rapid transit system engineering lifecycle and public transport fare policy, and includes technical visits. The module is conducted by both in-house trainers as well as external experts.
The CORE programme will be the first of many learning opportunities that SGRA and e2i will work together on to support both new entrants and industry incumbents. SGRA is partnering public transport operators and Institutes of Higher Learning to develop and roll-out further modules which will cover cross-functional and domain-specific competencies.
Such modules include intermediate and advanced level modules that are in line with a rail industry competency framework that SGRA is developing under the Singapore Skills Framework.
LTA also announced the opening of the Transportation Systems Lab and Systems Engineering Lab in SIT. These two labs will support SGRA’s functions to enhance laboratory-based teaching and learning, and enable application-focused research on systems engineering, modelling and simulation.
For example, the Transportation Systems Lab is equipped with advanced railway engineering simulator software that is customised to Singapore’s rail network. Students can design rail networks and be exposed to various rail signalling operations and simulations.
Also read: The Future of Talent in Singapore in 2030
Image credit: theindependent.sg