Multidisciplinary talent needed as Singapore develops world's largest automated port

Automated Guided Vehicles at Tuas Port. Port operator PSA Singapore is leveraging technology and data to develop innovative cargo solutions. PHOTO: PSA SINGAPORE
Tuas Port will be able to handle 65 million TEUs annually, almost double the current volume. PHOTO: MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - As Singapore develops the world's largest automated port, a multidisciplinary approach to nurturing talent is needed to meet the manpower demands of the future, said Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) chairman Hor Weng Yew.

He said the emerging skill sets that will be required in the future will be in electrification, automation, cargo solutions, sustainability and cyber security.

Mr Hor was speaking to The Straits Times ahead of the MaritimeONE and Tripartite Maritime Scholarships (TMSS) awards ceremony on Wednesday evening at Conrad Centennial Singapore hotel.

He added: "At the recent National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the developments of Tuas Port, giving Singaporeans a glimpse into what the port of the future will be like - extensively automated, employing AI (artificial intelligence) to coordinate operations seamlessly."

In his address to the nation on Aug 21, PM Lee said phase one of the project, which began 10 years ago, had been completed, with phases two, three and four to follow.

He also noted that when completed, Tuas Port will be able to handle 65 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually, almost double current volumes.

Mr Hor said: "PSA Singapore (the port operator) is also proactively leveraging technology and data to develop innovative cargo solutions that enable shippers and cargo owners to move cargo from an end-to-end global supply chain perspective.

"A diverse and dynamic international maritime centre requires talent with multidisciplinary skill sets, and that is why the MaritimeONE Scholarship has been established."

A total of 54 MaritimeONE scholarships and 12 TMSS, valued at $2.7 million in all, were sponsored by industry partners in the maritime sector this year.

Mr Hor said this year's MaritimeONE scholarship recipients received support worth $1.7 million from 32 companies.

He added that since its launch in 2007, the MaritimeONE initiative has awarded scholarships worth $14 million to 524 recipients.

Among this year's recipients is 21-year old Sardonna Ng.

She told ST that she decided to pursue a diploma in maritime studies at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) after attending a one-day exchange programme between her secondary school, CHIJ St Theresa's Convent, and SP.

"That one-day exchange programme opened my eyes... We were exposed to various fun and engaging hands-on activities such as using vessel simulator technology, and we also had the opportunity to manoeuvre a lifeboat," said Ms Ng.

The national hockey player is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in maritime studies at the Nanyang Technological University. Her scholarship is being sponsored by shipping firm Bernhard Schulte.

She added: "As the maritime industry is tackling growing concerns around global warming, I wish to contribute by researching alternative marine fuel options that will help reduce the industry's carbon emissions."

TMSS recipients, who have to serve a three-year bond upon graduation, will study for a diploma in nautical studies or marine engineering at the Singapore Maritime Academy at SP.

Scholarship holders can become ship captains or chief engineers of ocean-going ships and eventually take on leadership roles in the maritime sector. The total value of TMSS awarded this year is $1 million.

At the awards ceremony, guest of honour Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance, announced that the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will offer a new minor programme in maritime management.

The course, which is supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and SMF, aims to further develop a strong talent pipeline for the maritime sector, he said. 

The course is funded by Singapore Maritime Institute.

He added that the new programme will offer SUSS students, especially those in related disciplines such as logistics and supply chain management, an opportunity to learn about maritime business management, port management and technology, and shipping finance.

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