Waste management 'is no dump of a job'

Waste management 'is no dump of a job'
Mr Nelson Ng went from manually heaping rubbish onto the lorry he was driving to becoming operations manager at the same waste management firm, Wah & Hua, in a span of eight years.

SINGAPORE - Eight years ago, Mr Nelson Ng made a career switch from manufacturing to the waste industry and became a lorry driver. His job included manually heaping rubbish onto the vehicle.

Today, the 40-year-old is an operations manager at the same firm. He drives a company car and is in charge of over 50 staff.

"It's a challenging but fulfilling job," said Mr Ng, who works at home-grown general waste management firm Wah & Hua.

"It offers many opportunities and promotions, although many (people) just think of the waste management industry as being dirty and smelly."

His success story is an example of the vast opportunities available in the booming industry, which is often shunned by job seekers due to misconceptions.

To address this and highlight the opportunities available, the industry is hosting its first job fair tomorrow at the Hong Kah North Community Club in Bukit Batok.

Over 300 blue- and white-collar jobs will be offered at the one-day event, co-organised by Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) and official agencies.

Positions on offer include truck captains and attendants, waste sorters, technicians, human resource and sales executives, and mechanical engineers.

With a growing population and economy, Singapore is expected to produce 12.3 million tonnes of rubbish in 2030, up 57 per cent from last year.

This is a challenge for the waste management industry, which faces a labour shortage.

"We cannot work without labour, even though we incorporate technology in our processes and raise our productivity," said WMRAS chairman Melissa Tan.

At the job fair, visitors can browse 12 booths, each set up by employers in the waste industry.

They include waste collection firms such as Colex Environmental and SembWaste, recycling companies specialising in specific material such as LHT Holdings, which recycles wood, and steel recycler NatSteel Recycling.

Job seekers can expect "market rate" salary ranges, from $1,600 to $3,500 for heavy vehicle drivers and about $3,000 for mechanical engineers.

Employees in the industry can also pick up transferrable skills via training that would earn them Workforce Skills Qualifications certification, a national crediting system. This would allow workers to keep abreast of technological innovations relevant to the industry, said Ms Tan.

Remuneration and career prospects aside, it is also important that employees in the industry get recognised for their contribution, said Mr Clement Lim, general manager at NatSteel Recycling.

"Those in the waste industry are actually doing their part for the environment and saving the earth - they are the unsung, green heroes," he said.


This article was first published on Aug 30, 2014.
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