When the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) noticed the unsettling trend of furniture companies turning down assignments, it knew the industry's manpower problems were getting serious.

This, coupled with the heavy reliance on foreign carpenters who make up 80 per cent of the industry's workforce, prompted the council to set up a place-and-train programme.


The Creative Craftsman Apprenticeship Programme is a six-month course, jointly launched by the SFIC Institute, the Employment and Employability Institute, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Polytechnic of Western Australia. It has a pioneer batch of 20 students.

Upon graduation, they will have to serve a one-year bond with one of the 17 furniture companies which are part of the programme.

With the course, the council hopes to revamp the image of carpenters and dispel myths about the furniture industry dying, said Mr Neo Sia Meng (above), the vice-president of SFIC.


Pointing out that the furniture industry was worth $6 billion last year, he said: "How can it be dying if all your homes and offices continue to need furniture replenishments?"

Mr Neo hopes a pool of local skilled workforce can be built through the programme.

"We want to build a team of carpenters who not only know how to saw and nail, but are also in tune with the designing and reading of diagrams," he said.