The Public Bus Industry’s Sectoral Manpower Plan was launched last Friday (6 May 2016).
The manpower plan includes a new training programme and a new centralised bus academy which will open in the second half of 2016.
Through five strategies, the Sectoral Manpower Plan targets to attract and retain local bus captains to strengthen the Singaporean Core, and help the bus captains grow their careers and be ready for the industry of the future. The five strategies are:
Facilitate entry and transition to bus careers
Enhance training to uplift and professionalise bus careers
Promote attractive benefits and career progression pathways
Build pipeline of future bus professionals through ore-employment programmes
Strengthen outreach and community appreciation of bus professionals.
The Singapore Bus Academy will be set up by the Land Transport Authority in partnership with the e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) to attract, retain, and upskill the public bus industry workforce.
According to Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, the aim of the sectoral manpower plan is to transform the bus profession so that it is “more attractive, skills-intensive and respected”.
And rightfully so.
In recent years, the public transport sector has taken many blows, with the train disruptions and bus delays on the road.
But yet, the public transport industry is an industry that is so essential.
The government considers public transport as an essential service under law.
Without an effort by the authorities and tripartite partners to improve the image of the bus industry, then the sector will always remain stagnant.
And you know that every strategy under the manpower plan is really targeted at boosting manpower in the industry, because each talks about helping current bus captains, as well as looking towards recruiting more bus captains.
With the Singapore Bus Academy, bus professionals can undergo training under a centralised training centre.
According to the LTA, the academy will for a start will offer a Enhanced Vocational License Training Programme, a five-day programme comprising six modules to provide comprehensive foundational training for new bus captains across all operators.
This means there will be a standardised training programme for bus captains. But more than that, it also means that the skills learnt in the programme will allow the bus captain to bring his skills from one operator to another if he or she chooses to leave the company.
National Transport Workers’ Union’s Executive Secretary Melvin Yong who had previously urged parliament to set up a national bus academy said that the academy will go a long way in providing centralised structured training, as it standardises the basic training programmes for bus captains.
Of course, the effort of improving the profession is an continuous journey. But the important thing is for bus captains to want to improve their careers, and also for Singaporeans to want to join the sector and make it their career.