From washing cars to working in labs

From washing cars to working in labs
Abdul Malik, who has five children and went from a car washer for 1.5 years (earning $1,500) to being a pilot plant technician in a laboratory (more than $3,000) within a few years.

The Workforce Development Authority launched a Lifelong Learning Campaign to encourage both individuals and organisations who want to raise their skill level. We speak with two workers who progressed by upgrading their skills.

Three years ago, he was working at a car wash.

He earned $1,500 a month.

Along with his wife's salary as a part-time cleaner, the couple couldn't even afford to take their five children to Sentosa.

Today, Mr Abdul Malik Mohd Gazali, 30, is glad that those days are over.

As a lab technician, he now takes home more than $3,000 a month.

But the path wasn't easy for the university dropout, who had only A-level qualifications when he started job-hunting in his 20s.

He dabbled in insurance and construction, and was unemployed when he married and had his first child in early 2011.

Mr Abdul Malik and his 25-year-old wife lived with his mother-in-law, with a total of 11 people squeezed into a three-room flat.

"Expenses were growing because the kids were growing. We had to send them to childcare centres as my wife was working too," he said.

His children are aged two to nine years old, and four of them are from his wife's previous marriage.

"We wanted to move out from that situation. We wanted something better for our family."

That was when he attended a job fair organised by the South West Community Development Council.

"There were jobs in the process industry. At that point, I didn't know what that (the process industry) was."

In March 2012, he joined a firm which processes chemical waste as a chemical engineering technician.

"At first, I was more like a labourer. I had to carry bags of chemical waste around and take samples."

Mr Abdul Malik was also attached to the incineration department, and worked outdoors.

He soon learnt about the plant and the processes. Four months into the job, he was promoted and worked from the control room.

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