Tower Transit attracts ITE students to the automotive industry
Industry Immersion Programme hopes to inspire new generation of vehicle mechanics
Mr Heng Chun Rui, 18, smiled sheepishly as he admitted that he initially had little interest in his Nitec course.
The second-year ITE College West student is taking a course in automotive engineering, specialising in heavy vehicles.
He said: "I did not have much choice when picking a course. So I just chose this one, even though I was not particularly interested."
But after four weeks with Tower Transit Singapore, the student is now mapping a future in the industry.
In a collaboration between the bus operator and ITE College West, 40 students were exposed to the full scope of Tower Transit's engineering functions.
The month-long programme at the Bulim Bus Depot ended last Thursday.
It included working on bus chassis and suspension systems as well as the circuitry that powers the doors and air-conditioning units.
Besides hands-on experience, the students were given access to the e-learning room, where they could refer to the vehicle manuals of the different makes and engage in self-learning through quizzes.
The students were hard at work during a media visit on the programme's last day. Many had grease all over their hands.
One former ITE student is now working there full-time.
Mr Syazali Shariff, 19, was undergoing a six-month internship with Tower Transit last year and asked for it to be extended.
He said he always had an interest in heavy vehicles, and cited the culture at Tower Transit as playing a big part in convincing him to stay.
His passion was exemplary, said Mr Mark Hegarty, the company's head of engineering.
He added: "His attitude was excellent, which is why we hired him. He even requested to work on the weekends when he leaves to do his Higher Nitec in April."
Representatives from Tower Transit said they have had trouble hiring vehicle technicians.
Mr David Burton, the company's engineering technical and training manager, attributed this to "Singaporeans having the mindset that being a mechanic is an unglamorous job".
"But vehicle technicians play a crucial role in maintaining the country's public transport system.
"As such, this immersion programme is a good way for us to scout for future talent in the industry," he said.
It seems to be working, with most of the programme's students keen to return to work in the industry.
Mr Syakhir Alif, 18, is enthusiastic about coming back.
He said: "I feel that the four weeks was too short. I want to come back and learn a lot more. I really enjoyed the exposure and hopefully, I can land a job here one day."
Ms Choo Poh Ling, course manager for automotive engineering at ITE College West, said: "After seeing the professionalism of Tower Transit's engineering practices with their own eyes and getting some grease on their hands, I am confident many will be inspired to pursue a career in automotive engineering."