A persistent shortage of engineering talent in Singapore has prompted the launch of a new scholarship to train more specialist engineers for the public sector.
Under the Public Service Commission Scholarship (Engineering), scholarship holders can take up courses such as naval architecture, financial systems engineering and geospatial technology.
These areas of knowledge will be relevant to one of three clusters they will be attached to: defence and security; infocomm technology (ICT) and smart systems; and infrastructure and environment.
After graduation, they will join the statutory boards or ministries under each cluster - for instance, the Defence Science and Technology Agency under the defence and security cluster, or GovTech under the ICT and smart systems cluster.
They will also have access to mentorship schemes as well as opportunities to be part of cross-agency project teams.
The PSC (Engineering) scholarship holders will be "challenged with technical demands that aim to sharpen their domain skills and hone them into experts of these fields", said the PSC Secretariat, adding that it has not set a quota on the number of such scholarships to be awarded annually.
This year, more than 2,700 people applied to the PSC for a scholarship, a five-year high.
The announcement of the new scholarship comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the shortage of engineering talent in July.
It was also announced in April that the monthly starting salary of engineers in the public service was to be raised to at least $3,800 from the middle of this year onwards.
This is to support Singapore's drive to use technology more strategically in the next phase of its development. Those in the ICT sector can expect starting salaries of $4,000 and above a month.
The latest scholarship is open to university-bound students as well as undergraduates, who can apply mid-term, and is under one of the PSC's three scholarship schemes.
These schemes include the Uniformed Service scheme, which offers the Singapore Armed Forces Scholarship among others, and the Public Administration scheme, which offers the PSC Scholarship.
The latter offers scholarship holders some flexibility in terms of which ministry they start their careers at, and their early years are spent building public governance skills.
But for those who apply for the PSC Scholarship (Engineering), which comes under the Professional Service scheme, "the key difference lies in the intended career paths of the scholarships", the PSC Secretariat said. These people will be tied to their engineering clusters when they start their careers.
Mr Edwin Khew, president of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, said the launch of the new scholarship "sends a strong signal" to all students and their parents of the growing demand for public- sector engineers and the importance of Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to Singapore's future.
"This will create a ripple effect and stimulate greater overall interest in engineering among the younger generation, and send more students into the private sector too," he said.
Those interested in the PSC Scholarship (Engineering) may submit their applications at www.pscgateway.gov.sg
CLUSTERS SCHOLARSHIP HOLDERS WILL BE ATTACHED TO
1 Defence and security
2 Infocomm technology and smart systems
3 Infrastructure and environment
This article was first published on Dec 29, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.