Rolls-Royce to create 10% more jobs in Singapore

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - It will hire technicians and engineers to raise production capacity, meet regional demand

British engineering giant Rolls-Royce is set to create more jobs in Singapore this year as it expands into the rest of South-east Asia.

The firm will increase its headcount in Singapore by about 10 per cent, hiring technicians and engineers as it moves to increase its plane engine production capacity, said Rolls-Royce's president for South-east Asia, Pacific and South Korea, Dr Bicky Bhangu, yesterday.

During a media roundtable at the Rolls-Royce pavilion at the Singapore Airshow, Dr Bhangu said the company currently employs 2,500 people in Singapore, including at its Seletar campus and Singapore Aero Engine Services in Changi, a joint venture with SIA Engineering Company for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work.

The company will be hiring 230 more people this year - 80 for the Seletar campus, and 150 for the MRO facility. Dr Bhangu added that 85 per cent of the Rolls-Royce staff are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

"We are working very closely with our five polytechnics, with our ITE (Institute of Technical Education), and with the unions and several ministries, to make sure that Singapore is upscaling at the same rate that we are ramping up our capacity," he added.

Dr Bhangu said the British firm made 200 engines in Singapore last year, and the aim is to increase the production capacity of its Seletar facility to 250 annually to cater to regional demand.

The firm's growth in Singapore and the region has been "very positive" since its decision to set up shop here in 2009. "We've seen 10 per cent growth year on year. Asean continues to be a double-digit growth for us in the very near future," he said. 

Rolls-Royce has been able to use Singapore as a springboard to the rest of the region because of the Singapore Government's role in supporting the aerospace and MRO sector, said Dr Bhangu.

Rolls-Royce chief technology officer (CTO) Paul Stein said one challenge moving forward was the question of sustainability and combating climate change, issues which the aviation industry has to contend with.

He said: "Even though aviation is 2 per cent of global CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions) today, if we don't do anything else with decarbonisation, aviation will stick out like a sore thumb, as being a contributor to global warming, so we need to do something about it and we are doing something about it."

Mr Stein noted that at the Paris Air Show last year, aviation CTOs, including himself, agreed to ensure their companies actively adopted sustainability efforts, such as pursuing fuel efficiency.

Dr Bhangu said the mindset of Rolls-Royce staff was also geared towards sustainability, beyond just its products and services. For example, it has installed solar panels at its Seletar campus and also committed to a zero greenhouse gas emission target by 2030.

He noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong dedicated a significant portion of his National Day Rally speech last year to highlighting the importance of sustainability.

"So yes, I think that the movement is starting, and we're glad that it is starting. We are bringing our journey and Singapore's journey together. I think we have a lot more work to do, and we need to take that journey to Asean as well," said Dr Bhangu.

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