Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Professional Engineers (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 30/2017]
Sir, I stand in support of this Bill, which will enhance the role of the Professional Engineers Board (PEB) and strengthen the engineering profession.
Much has been reported about the manpower crunch in the engineering sector due to the decreased attractiveness of the profession to young people.
The expanded role of the PEB will help to further advance industry development and broaden its appeal as a profession to address the skills gap that currently exists.
We all know that engineers are important and it has also been reported that close to half of the economy relies on input from engineers.
Sir, I would like to seek a few clarifications on behalf of members of the profession.
Exclusion of certain engineering branches
Firstly, it is a positive step forward for the PEB to now help develop the engineering profession and promote engineering. However, the question is why not do this for all branches of engineering since this is the Professional Engineers Board.
Why exclude other engineering branches such as aerospace, marine, and transportation? Who then will help or regulate these branches of engineering?
Authorisation of foreign PEs
Secondly, there are concerns about the new section 10(c) where a foreign engineer may now be authorised by the PEB to engage in professional engineering work with a registered professional engineer. I understand this is under the existing ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Engineering Services.
Mr. Yew Hang, a Singaporean engineer commented on Facebook and asked how we will ensure that PEs from different countries are of consistent quality and that they are familiar with local regulatory requirements. Can the Minister share what are the processes and criteria the Board will use for authorising foreign PEs?
I do understand that the Registered Foreign PE must work with a Registered PE but is there an established ratio for this? For example, will there be a case of ten Registered Foreign PE working with just one Registered PE?
Mr. Yew Hang further raised and I quote “how do we ensure that companies and businesses do not overly favour foreign PE over local PE, creating too much competition and driving wages down? Will this lead to an erosion of our local engineering core, especially when we are already lacking in engineering talents and engineering is not seen as an attractive career for many youth today?”
I would be grateful if Minister can provide clarifications about this and help assure the engineers in Singapore.
Sir, engineering has been described as the “backbone of the economy”. We rely on engineers to design, operate, maintain, and support the running of our economy in sectors ranging from manufacturing, to finance, to transportation. Also, developing a pool of talent in software engineering is an essential part of our push to become a Smart Nation.
This Bill is a welcomed step in revitalising engineering in Singapore. In addition to this legislative amendment, I urge the government to continue its efforts to strengthen the engineering core, such as through initiatives to deepen our public sector engineering capabilities.
Sir, I stand in support of the Bill.