Road map for electronics manufacturing aims to create 2,100 new jobs, $22b in value-add by 2020: Iswaran

Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran giving the keynote address during the unveiling of the Industry Transformation Map.
Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran giving the keynote address during the unveiling of the Industry Transformation Map.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore's electronics manufacturing sector is getting a leg up with the aim of growing it to have a manufacturing value-add of S$22.2 billion and create 2,100 new jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) by 2020.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran on Wednesday (Sept 20) said this comes as the Republic works to broaden capabilities in the electronics sector and build "smart factories of the future".

He was unveiling the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the electronics sector at the official opening of JTC nanoSpace@Tampines. The facility is purpose-built to meet the operational requirements of niche semiconductor manufacturers.

The electronics industry has been, and will continue to be, a key sector of growth for Singapore's economy, said Mr Iswaran.

Electronics manufacturing accounted for 4.4 per cent of Singapore's economy last year, with S$90 billion in manufacturing output and employment of about 70,000.

In the coming years, "mobile devices will continue to drive growth in electronics". "At the same time, we are seeing the emergence of exciting new application areas such as autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and healthcare, which rely heavily on electronics.

"Even the smart factories of the future will need more sensors and robots," he said.

These new technologies will also change the way electronics companies operate and compete, said Mr Iswaran. In addition, advanced manufacturing is set to create new skilled jobs in manufacturing, such as system engineers and automation technicians, he added.

The electronics ITM sets out a two-pronged strategy to grow the industry, Mr Iswaran said. Firstly, Singapore will diversify into new growth opportunities in the electronics sector. Secondly, the existing base of electronics manufacturers will need to transform even as the country looks to attract new investments in high-value components.

To diversify into new growth opportunities, the Government will strengthen the innovation ecosystem to better support companies in developing new capabilities, said the minister.

Economic agencies will bring together MNCs, SMEs, as well as research institutions and institutes of higher learning, to collaborate and develop new solutions for the industry.

Singapore will also continue to attract high value-add activities. This means investing early in building infrastructure to support investments, Mr Iswaran noted, citing JTC nanoSpace as an example.

"The facility is strategically located within Tampines Wafer Fab Park and offers a plug-and-play, quick-start solution that meets the requirements of semiconductor operations," said Mr Iswaran. "Singapore will continue to invest in next-generation infrastructure solutions to attract MNCs and grow local companies."

Skills development is also key to gearing the electronics industry up for long-term growth, said Mr Iswaran.

He announced the launch of the Skills Framework for Electronics, an integral part of the electronics ITM developed by SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and the economic agencies, together with industry stakeholders such as employers, industry associations, unions, and the institutes of higher learning.

The Skills Framework identifies emerging skills and competencies for the sector in the areas of robotics and automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Two new professional conversion programmes (PCPs) for electronics are also being rolled out to train electronics engineers and electronics assistant engineers.

These come on top of the four PCPs already launched last year to reskill PMETs for the wafer fabrication and assembly and test sectors.

Mr Alexander Everke, the chief executive of sensor manufacturer ams, said the company is on track to grow more than 40 per cent over the next three years.

The company is the anchor tenant at JTC nanoSpace@Tampines and plans to invest about $200 million over the next three years in its facility there.

It had fewer than 1,000 employees here last year and has since expanded significantly to more than 6,000 staff.

"A big growth driver is the communications segment which includes mobile phone customers, but we're also strong and fast-growing in automotives, autonomous driving, the Internet of Things among others," he said.