Electronics outperformed others, will remain major employment source: Chan Chun Sing

Firms like Micron Technology (far left) and Infineon Technologies (left) now lead Singapore's semiconductor industry. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG, JOYCE FANG
Firms like Micron Technology (above) and Infineon Technologies now lead Singapore's semiconductor industry. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Firms like Micron Technology (far left) and Infineon Technologies (left) now lead Singapore's semiconductor industry. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG, JOYCE FANG
Firms like Micron Technology and Infineon Technologies (above) now lead Singapore's semiconductor industry. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The electronics industry - particularly semiconductors - has outperformed other segments of the economy amid the coronavirus-induced recession and will remain a major source of employment, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing noted yesterday.

The industry as a whole reaped $5.7 billion in fixed assets investment in the first nine months of the year and recorded $376 million in total business expenditure.

Mr Chan told a briefing that these investments will create about 1,100 jobs when they are fully realised over the next three to five years, and come on top of the opportunities already created by the industry so far this year.

Around 130 electronics companies have offered more than 2,800 employment opportunities since April - 1,880 jobs, with the rest comprising attachments and training slots, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) noted. Almost all of the jobs were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians, it said.

"Many good jobs that we have in the semiconductor industry today would not have been possible if not for the gumption of the previous generation to bring in those good investments," Mr Chan said.

Semiconductor assembly and test operations were some of the largest job creators here during the 1960s and 1970s, with multinationals such as National Semiconductor, Fairchild and Texas Instruments setting the foundations for what has become a thriving industry here.

Now led by firms including GlobalFoundries, Micron Technology and Infineon Technologies, the segment has seen its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) surge from less than 1 per cent in 1990 to 6.9 per cent last year, Mr Chan said.

The electronics industry as a whole employs 70,500 workers in semiconductors, consumer electronics and information technology, and accounted for about 39 per cent of Singapore's manufacturing GDP last year.

The semiconductor industry alone lifted output 1.7 per cent year on year in the first half of this year, even as the overall economy suffered its worst-ever recession.

Mr Chan said yesterday that MTI and the economic agencies are "firing on all cylinders" to create as many good jobs here as possible.

This is being done on three fronts:

• encouraging more start-ups to create opportunities for job creation;

• helping local firms to scale up both domestically and regionally; and

• attracting global companies to set up in Singapore and catalyse the local industry.

Mr Chan said that if Singapore plays its cards right and provides the kind of environment where it can serve different markets, even in a fragmenting world, it can turn this crisis into an opportunity.

"This is indeed a crisis of a generation, but we have every chance to turn this into an opportunity of a generation," he said.


  • HOW THE INDUSTRY STACKS UP

  • The electronics industry has seen robust growth this year, partly due to the surge in demand for digital goods and services to help individuals stay connected amid travel restrictions, safe distancing and remote working arrangements. Output in the biggest segment in electronics - the semiconductors - increased 1.7 per cent year on year in the first six months of 2020.

  • 2,900

    Approximate number of companies in Singapore's electronics industry.

    70,500

    People employed in Singapore's electronics industry.

    39%

    Contribution to Singapore's manufacturing GDP in 2019.

    130

    Number of electronics companies that offered jobs and attachments this year.

    2,800

    Jobs and attachments offered by electronics industry since April 2020.

    $5.7b

    Fixed assets investment in electronics in the first nine months of 2020.

    $376m

    Total business expenditure by electronics industry.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2020, with the headline Electronics outperformed others, will remain major employment source: Chan Chun Sing. Subscribe