SIM University (UniSIM), in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Embry-Riddle) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), will be offering two new aviation degrees – the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance (BSAM) and the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Business Administration (BSABA) in July 2010 and January 2011 respectively.
The degrees will be jointly awarded by UniSIM and Embry-Riddle; students will graduate with separate degree certificates from UniSIM and Embry-Riddle. This is a landmark collaboration as it will be the first time that Embry-Riddle, the world's leading aviation and aerospace university based in the United States, is collaborating with an Asian partner to offer its undergraduate degree programmes.
UniSIM, Embry-Riddle and WDA will also collaborate to offer a series of Master Classes and Executive Development Programmes. WDA will provide funding support for the programmes. For the degree programmes, WDA will offer scholarships for selected trainees earmarked for leadership positions in companies.
The global aerospace and aviation industries have seen strong expansion over the years. In Singapore, the aerospace industry has been growing at an average rate of 13% since 1990. Over the years, Singapore has developed into the most comprehensive Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub for the industry in Asia. In 2008, it achieved a record output of S$7.1 billion and employed a total of 19,000 professionals and workers. With Economic Development Board the setting up of the Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP) by 2018, it is expected to contribute S$3.3 billion annually in value-add and create employment for 10, 000 people.
Currently, the five local polytechnics are producing about 1,300 graduates each year through 13 aerospace-related diplomas. The new UniSIM degree programmes will allow these diploma graduates to continue with an undergraduate education. As with all UniSIM programmes, the aviation degree programmes will be conducted on a part-time basis, providing an opportunity for the existing pool of non-degree holding aerospace personnel to upgrade their knowledge, skills and qualifications.
Presently, about 70% of the licensed aircraft engineers (LAEs) in Singapore possess diploma qualifications and below. Likewise, many of the junior and middle level employees in the aerospace industry do not have formal educational qualifications although they have substantial working experience.
Employers would be interested in grooming them to take on larger roles in companies, as part of talent management and succession planning.
The two new aviation degree programmes will also provide upgrading and articulation pathways for graduands from WDA's Aerospace Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) courses, including the WSQ-aligned Specialist Diploma in Aviation Maintenance by the Air Transport Training College and Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering by Kingston University. Trainees who possess the Foundation Degree will be given credit exemptions to access the UniSIM's bachelor programmes.
The BSAM and BSABA programmes focus on technical-based knowledge in aviation maintenance and soft skills in aviation administration and management respectively. The faculty will comprise academics from UniSIM and Embry-Riddle as well as experienced industry practitioners. Additionally, UniSIM and Embry-Riddle will collaborate on other teaching and research activities.
A unique feature of the BSAM programme is the incorporation of the Boeing 737 New Generation line certification course that is currently offered by Boeing only to its aircraft purchasers. With the Level 2 certification course as part of the BSAM curriculum, it will not only help our graduates enhance their aircraft maintenance acumen, it will also result in greater employability and position them well in the industry and their respective companies due to their readiness to a Level 3 certification. Such a certification is required before an aircraft engineer can sign off on repair works performed on that particular type of aircraft.
According to Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, UniSIM, "We are glad that UniSIM has this opportunity to offer the two degree programmes that are needed to meet the exacting manpower needs of the aviation industry. Through this partnership with Embry-Riddle and WDA, our students now have the opportunity to learn and earn a degree from a globally-recognised aviation and aerospace university, at fees subsidised by MOE and WDA."
"WDA is pleased to work with UniSIM and Embry-Riddle. The partnership will draw on the expertise of Embry-Riddle in the aviation and aerospace sectors, the experience of UniSIM in continuing education and training and the work which WDA has been doing in the sectors through the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications. We are confident that the collaboration will help nurture a core of leadership talent and professionals in the aerospace and aviation sectors," said Mr Chan Heng Kee, Chief Executive of WDA.
Giving his nod of approval is Mr Vernon Nunis, General Manager, Human Resources, Eagle Services Asia, one of the largest MRO companies in Singapore. He said, "Currently, there is a sizeable pool of aviation maintenance personnel who are diploma holders. Many have aspirations to upgrade to a degree level but the options available locally are limited. These two new programmes provide additional avenues for these personnel to upgrade their skills and knowledge to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving aerospace industry. From an employer's perspective, we also appreciate that our staff may be able to upgrade without taking leave of absence from work.