Wafer-fab plant opens its doors to jobless

AUG. 23–SINGAPORE–Former store supervisor Poh Too Ding, 39, had never stepped into a cleanroom at a wafer fab, but he still found the idea of working inside one for hours at a time “discomforting.”

“The visit to see one was an eye-opener,” he told The Strait Times. “I actually thought such a room was dangerous, as the chemicals used to make it so clean and pure would harm me.”

But after visiting one, he says he realizes it “is just a large, dust-free room that is very clean, and that there’s nothing there that will harm me.”

“In fact, I felt at ease there,” Ding adds.

He was one of five residents from Pasir Ris- Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) – part of a group of 20 visiting the factory – who had the chance to get a peek into what the high-tech factory floor of today is like, and see first-hand how wafers are produced.

The two-hour-long visit to the Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company, a wafer-fabrication plant in Pasir Ris, was organised by the Northeast Community
Development Council (CDC), to provide unemployed residents with an insight into what it is like working in a wafer fab factory.

In its effort to find work for its residents, the CDC has tied up with three semiconductor companies in the GRC -Hitachi Nippon Steel Semiconductor, Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company and UMCi – which have 3,500 jobs to fill.

The posts range from engineers to manufacturing assistants. While they were there, the group met and talked to some of the employees at the plant to find out more about their working conditions and career prospects.

The wafer-fabrication visit will be the first of many to come. About half the residents who visited the plant have been without jobs for more than six months.

The four-year old company currently employs 400 manufacturing assistants, and will have 50 to 60 such jobs available towards the end of the year. The minimum
starting pay is $1,000.

Northeast CDC mayor Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who is also an MP for Aljunied GRC, said: ‘Employers today are interested in recruiting people who are willing to learn and who are keen to upgrade themselves continually.

“I hope this visit will help change mindsets and encourage residents to consider jobs of such a nature,” he says.

Those living in the Pasir Ris and Punggol areas can also head down to Tampines for the SIA Engineering fair next Saturday, at which 300 positions will be on offer. The fair is being organized by the CDC.


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