$1.2m scheme to tackle lack of marine engineers

The maritime sector will get a boost with a new $1.2 million programme to tackle an acute shortage of marine engineers.

The Tripartite Engineering Training Award (Teta) programme was launched yesterday by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

The place-and-train scheme is meant to encourage more Singaporeans to pursue careers as marine engineers on commercial ships.

It will subsidise cadets' training and secure placements with shipping companies even before they begin.

Speaking at the Devan Nair Institute, Mr Lim said: "Seafarers form a key segment of our maritime workforce... With an increasing use of technology, we must equip our seafarers with a higher level of knowledge and skills, and attract more to join this sector."

Teta is a joint initiative by the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union (SMOU) and its training arm Wavelink Maritime Institute, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

Its cadets will receive training allowances of between $1,200 and $1,400 a month during the three-year scheme, which will include a 15-month stint with a commercial ship. Once they graduate, they can expect to earn a starting pay of US$3,000 (S$4,033) a month and look forward to a monthly salary of US$7,000 as a chief engineer.

The pilot scheme has nine Singaporeans on board, and SMOU hopes to increase this to 20 next year. Those with an engineering background from ITE Higher Nitec can apply. Cadets will pay only 10 per cent of the training course fees of around $56,000, with 80 per cent subsidised by e2i and another 10 per cent by SMOU.

Former personnel and logistics coordinator Manogaran Harishankaran said he decided to take up seafaring because of a fascination with how self-sustainable ships were. "It's a whole system on its own," said the 31-year-old.

His parents were surprised at his mid-career switch. "They feel I'm a bit old and want me to settle down. But sometimes you've just got to get out there and see the world."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline '$1.2m scheme to tackle lack of marine engineers'. Print Edition | Subscribe