Trainees can expect to fetch a salary between S$2,500 to S$5,000 as an agri-tech specialist, and between S$2,000 to S$2,600 as an agri-tech operator.
The Workforce Singapore (WSG), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), and the Republic Polytechnic (RP) have rolled out the first career conversion programme (CCP) for the agri-tech (referred to as high-tech agriculture) sector.
This is expected to benefit 100 mid-career individuals over the span of two years, wherein the CCP will help to attract and build a local talent pipeline to complement the Singapore Green Plan, including its “30 by 30” goal to build capability, and have capacity to produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030.
Today, the agri-food sector has approximately 2,000 workers. It is projected that about 4,700 new and redesigned jobs would be created by 2030. Of these, around 70% of the jobs are expected to be filled by skilled workers and professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) who have a good understanding of urban food production, and have multi-disciplinary expertise in science, engineering, and info-communications.
Lim Kok Thai, Chief Executive Officer, SFA, shared: “With Singapore working towards its ‘30 by 30’ goal, this is a timely programme and one which will be welcomed by the agri-food industry as our future high-tech farms would require a workforce with multi-disciplinary expertise in science, engineering, and info-communications."
Entering the agri-tech sector
With the CCP, companies in the agri-tech sector are able to utilise two alternative pathways to meet the increasing manpower demands by reskilling mid-career individuals, who possess transferable skillsets with the relevant knowledge, and skills.
For the first pathway, PMETs will undergo six months of structured class training on top of on-the-job training (OJT), and will enter the programme as an agri-tech specialist. Individuals can expect job roles like a farm manager/engineers/technologists, produce specialists, crop scientists, and agronomists. Key job functions may include leading a team of farm technicians, producing production report and yield estimation, and more. The salary range for this group is between S$2,500 to S$5,000.
For the second pathway, individuals will undergo three months of training, and will enter the programme as an agri-tech operator. They will be placed in roles such as farm operator/technician and operations executive. Key job functions may include cultivating vegetables to meet output targets, preparing nutrient and other supplies for cultivation, and more. The salary range for this group is between S$2,000 to S$2,600.
On top of that, PMETs involved in the CCP will also undergo training modules like Sustainable Agriculture: Clean and Green Standard for Urban Farms, Plant Factories with Artificial Lighting and Smart Farming Technologies, that equips them with the knowledge of cleaner and sustainable farming practices, integration of technology, such as Internet-of-Things to enable precision farming and designing indoor vertical farming with technologies.
As of January 2022, 15 companies have expressed interest in hiring under the CCP.
Companies that are interested in the CCP can take note that having a trainee under:
- The 'specialist' pathway has a standard funding of up to 70% of the trainee's monthly salary, capped at $4,000 per trainee per month, for the training duration, and
- The 'operator' pathway has a standard funding of up to 70% of the trainee's monthly salary, capped at S$2,000 per trainee per month, for the training duration.
For the enhanced funding, companies that hire trainees who are long-term unemployed, and/or aged 40 and above, the 'specialist' pathway has up to 90% of the trainee’s monthly salary, capped at S$6,000 per trainee per month, for the training duration. While the 'operator' pathway has up to 90% of the trainee’s monthly salary, capped at S$3,000 per trainee per month, for the training duration.
WSG and SFA are monitoring the needs of the agri-food industry, which includes aquaculture, egg farming, and general agriculture farms, and will work with industry partners to explore new CCPs for other sectors within the industry should there be substantial demand.
Sharing his sentiments on the programme, Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive, WSG, said: "To build capabilities in the future agri-tech workforce, it is timely for WSG to introduce the CCP for agri-tech now to help Singaporeans secure jobs in this growth sector, which offers diverse career opportunities. We are happy to partner SFA and RP in this programme to ensure that the agri-tech sector is supported by a strong Singaporean core."
"As we continue to level up Singapore’s food supply resilience, RP is proud to partner WSG and SFA in this CCP to equip our local workforce with the required skillsets to support the burgeoning agri-tech sector. Through this programme, mid-career individuals will be well-placed to embrace new career opportunities and support the nation’s 30 by 30 goal as set out in the Singapore Green Plan," added Yeo Li Pheow, Principal/Chief Executive Officer, RP.
Image / Workforce Singapore