$8m drive by maritime sector to ease manpower shortage

The maritime sector is pumping more funds into easing its manpower shortage, with a tripartite committee earmarking $8 million for a new job portal, training awards and incentives, as well as tapping SkillsFuture programmes.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced some of these initiatives yesterday at the Singapore Shipping Association's 30th anniversary gala dinner.

The new schemes are aimed at attracting more than 1,200 Singaporeans to seafaring and port operation careers in the next five years.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) chief executive Andrew Tan said: "With manpower, it's not something for which you can just turn on the tap and it comes out. You have to spend years building a pipeline."

In the sector's first effort to receive help and funding under SkillsFuture - a government initiative to get Singaporean workers to upgrade themselves - an Earn- and-Learn programme starting next year will place fresh polytechnic graduates in jobs as port operations officers, seafaring officers and marine engineers.

Singaporeans will receive an incentive of $5,000 for completing the year-long training programme, while participating employers will be eligible for grants of up to $15,000 per trainee.

Mr Jervyn Koo, 32, a PSA Singapore assistant manager in stowage planning, said of the SkillsFuture support: "This will ensure new employees are well-equipped for the future as we introduce more advanced technology, including automated cranes and automated guided vehicles."

The MPA is also investing $4 million in a new job centre and portal, the Maritime Singapore Connect Office, which will open next year.

Another $4 million will go towards subsidies and cash awards for seafarers-in-training.

From next month, the MPA will reimburse shipping firms up to half the monthly allowances they pay Singaporean cadets, who will get awards of up to $3,000 for completing the various training stages.

Olivia Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline '$8m drive by maritime sector to ease manpower shortage'. Print Edition | Subscribe