MPA rolls out new schemes to groom maritime talents

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is rolling out a series of new manpower schemes aimed at attracting and developing local talents for the marine and shipping sector.

Some $12 million will be set aside over two years to run initiatives, including the Maritime Career Conversion scheme and the Internship Reimbursement scheme, the MPA said yesterday.

The Maritime Career Conversion scheme will help Singaporeans and permanent residents re-skill in order to take on good jobs in the maritime industry. It will co-fund a structured training programme for the participants and their wages for the first six months, with the target to benefit 100 to 120 individuals with no industry background in two years.

The Internship Reimbursement scheme will seek to offer incentives to maritime companies to provide local students with internship opportunities.

Over two years, some 1,600 students are expected to take up these opportunities and their allowance will be 50 per cent co-funded by the MPA, up to a cap of $400 per month.

The schemes, to be progressively launched from next month, will be funded through the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) for Manpower Development. Since 2007, $115 million has been committed through the fund pool to develop the maritime sector's manpower.

As part of its latest manpower initiative, the MPA will also tap the MCF to raise its co-funding for selected short courses to as much as 90 per cent, in a bid to encourage companies to improve the skills of their current employees. 3,000 resident workers are expected to benefit.

The schemes and incentives come as Singapore's maritime sector continues to face both domestic and external challenges. It is one of the sectors with persistent manpower issues amid the Government's push to restructure the economy and limit the hiring of foreigners.

The rise of regional ports, particularly in Malaysia, may also pile pressure on the sector's performance, while the commodity crash has greatly weakened the marine and offshore companies here.

This year's Budget has made adjustments to help the sector, with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore broadening its tax incentive awards for activities related to the exploitation of offshore energy and minerals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'MPA rolls out new schemes to groom maritime talents'. Print Edition | Subscribe