IT in Manufacturing: Graduate Area of Work
Whether it’s a large multinational company or a small organisation, a corporation that is actively operating in the industry and manufacturing sector will need the support of a dedicated IT department if it were to run its business effectively.
IT and technology has often been credited for many manufacturing organisations’ improved productivity and cost reduction, and is said to be essential in helping them improve their supply chain and data management process.
The sector in Singapore isn’t as dominant as its services sector but this is balanced out by the advanced, state-of-the-art technology that is harnessed here.
With the support of various organisations such as the Economic Development Board (EDB) and SPRING Singapore, the country has been actively developing several areas, such as electrics and electronics, oil & gas refinery and equipment (onshore and offshore), shipping, and aerospace technology.
Most large organisations in this sector will advertise their IT graduate vacancies – whether through their own website, online job portals, university networks, job boards, etc. – and it is also a good idea to keep a lookout for job opportunities through their social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Smaller employers, on the other hand, may require more research and networking effort as they often hire by word-of-mouth or recommendations. Many also prefer to convert interns into full-time hires if they see a match, so getting an internship during your university days might just give you an extra leg up.
Depending on what you’re hired as, your job scope as an IT expert in this sector can revolve around a few primary duties, such as quality control, building and maintaining computer-aided design/manufacturing, and data sensing and logging.
You’ll most likely start out with technical duties as you learn from the mentor and team that you are assigned to, such as the maintenance and troubleshooting of technical problems that arise in the day-to-day IT networks or operations systems.
As you progress in your career, you can opt to specialise in a certain technical area or skill through postgraduate education or professional certificates. Alternatively, you can also join the managerial ranks where you work with planning, quality management, and monitoring functions.
Unlike other industries where regular IT skills can be applied to almost all departments without discrimination, IT roles in this sector can be quite specialist because of the type of knowledge and machineries that are used by each company.
For instance, if you are an IT expert in an oil and gas company, it is usually difficult for you to switch over to the pharmaceutical line due to the highly technical industrial processes involved.
Employers in this industry tend to lean towards hiring graduates with technology-based degrees, such as software engineering, network engineering, software development, and computer science, but they also have positions that require graduates with IT-related degrees. Prior working experience will also give you an advantage over other applicants.
Also, be aware of ongoing trends as well. For instance, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has urged the manufacturing community to go from “adding value to creating value” – how can you, as an IT expert in the industry, do this? Good technical skills are important, but good business and commercial awareness will stand you in good stead.
Aside from that, basic qualities that employers look out for include the ability to multitask and to deal with pressure, organisational skills, problem-solving abilities, as well as a keen eye for detail.
Pros and cons
Depending on the size and type of organisation that you’re working for, there is a chance for you to work with cutting edge technology. For instance, large organisations are typically more willing to invest in the latest systems and IT infrastructures to streamline their complicated supply chain procedures/processes.
However, one drawback of working in this sector is the pressure that you may potentially face when systems or networks fail. As system failures can greatly affect the supply chain, you may need to pull all-nighters to bring the systems back up as soon as possible.