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Former S'pore production manager makes career switch at age 62 through conversion programme

Former S'pore production manager makes career switch at age 62 through conversion programme

Published on

01 Jul 2022

Published by

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - At 62, when most workers are getting ready to retire, Mr Tham Guok Wai made a career switch.


After retiring as a production manager at Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing at the age of 60 in February 2019, he joined precision engineering firm Certact Engineering as a project manager two years later.


In between, he found another job, also as production manager, in Melaka, Malaysia. But he quit after three months because working abroad was too taxing for him, he said.


It was a steep learning curve for Mr Tham, now 63, to come up to speed for this current job.


His role at Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing was mainly hands-off as he oversaw the production of aircraft parts using machines, while his current job requires him to be familiar with chemical processes.


To get used to the new job, he had to undergo a career conversion programme.


Mr Tham said he wanted to keep working because he felt he was too young to retire.


"After working for so many years, to suddenly stop, I don't think it is good for the body or mind," he said.


His current job, which he was offered in August 2020, involves dealing with special treatment processes such as plastic fabrication and plastic heat treatment.


But Mr Tham was unfamiliar with the technical aspects, as his previous jobs were more focused on manufacturing processes such as tool cutting.


Certact Engineering decided to enrol him in a seven-month career conversion programme for an advanced manufacturing engineer/assistant engineer role in November that year.


Through the Workforce Singapore programme, Mr Tham picked up useful skills, such as heat treatment and anodising metals, or a process to protect metal surfaces, which helped ease him into his new career.


"It was definitely a challenge, but it was very interesting to learn about new things," said Mr Tham, who is currently in charge of overseeing the firm's new processing line.


"I'm a fast learner, so with the new skills and my past work experience, I now have confidence in my abilities to succeed in my current position."


Mr Tham, who is married with two children aged 30 and 32, hopes to continue working for as long as he can. His wife is a housewife.


He said: "By learning new things and working, I can keep my mind alert and take up new challenges. I can also teach my younger colleagues, using all the experience that I have, and give back to society."


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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