New training programme for locals to become tug boat operators

The Government announced a new training programme on Thursday designed to attract more locals into the maritime industry as tug masters.

Under it, participants will spend 15-months learning all aspects of operating a tug boat, including safe at-sea working practices and navigation.

Tug masters work in Singapore's port waters, assisting vessels in entering, berthing, un-berthing and leaving the nation's port. Till now, there have been no structured programmes to train tug masters - towage companies had to train workers on-the-job.

In recent years, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) have been stepping up efforts to draw Singaporeans to the growing maritime industry, which experienced a challenging time last year with high energy costs and overcapacity.

The MPA's chief executive Andrew Tan said that the harbour craft sector of the maritime industry was "a good source of employment for Singaporeans" and offers "good pay and job advancement prospects".

The first intake of the new programme will start in the third quarter of this year. Fifty tug masters are expected to be trained over two years. The three agencies will subsidise the $7,000 course fee, though details are still being finalised. Applicants must have at least Secondary Two qualificatons, be physically fit and willing to work at sea.