Jurong Port has opened a new training facility to upskill port workers and prepare them for the future.
The move is aimed at supporting the transformation of the industry, where automation and new technologies are increasingly deployed to improve capability and raise productivity.
The new Jurong Port Academy, which officially opened yesterday, will train and certify port workers from Jurong Port and local stevedore companies in using the latest port mechanisation and automation technologies.
Jurong Port has invested around $2.8 million in the academy, with some help from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
The facility, which is housed at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (e2i) in Jurong Gateway, features classroom-based training and the use of simulator tools. This will be used together with a new dedicated training yard within the port, where hands-on equipment training will take place.
The simulator is already being used in a pilot training course for ship crane operations that started early this month.
Jurong Port chief executive Ooi Boon Hoe told a briefing on Wednesday that the academy is expected to benefit about 1,900 workers and help the port reduce its labour dependency by 20 to 30 per cent.
He noted the port faces two pressing challenges - an ageing workforce and slow growth in labour productivity.
"Raising labour productivity through training will reduce labour dependency in our operations, and upskilling our workforce will create rewarding career paths," said Mr Ooi. "Both of this will work in a self-reinforcing way to allow for better recruitment, better rewards and a future-ready workforce."
All of this, he added, will allow Jurong Port to stay competitive and move closer to its vision of becoming a next-generation, world-class multi-purpose port.
Mr Ooi said he expects the port's throughput to remain flat this year, given lacklustre global trade. "But this is also the opportune time for us to make the changes. And when the upswing comes, the multiplier effect can really take off."
Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Transport, noted at the launch that Jurong Port's initiative comes amid "disruptive changes" within the shipping industry.
"It is inevitable that some jobs will change. Some port workers will have to learn how to operate new equipment, others may have to perform new functions - for example, after manual processes become automated," said Mrs Teo, who is also Senior Minister of State at the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Port workers will need support and help to upgrade their skills and capabilities," she added.
The launch of the academy follows that of the Combi Terminal in August last year. The Combi Terminal is a one-stop facility serving multi-purpose vessels carrying a combination of containers and general cargo.
It means these vessels no longer have to make multiple stops at separate terminals or berths to load and unload the different types of cargo.
Jurong Port is Singapore's main gateway for general and bulk cargo such as cement, steel, MRT trains and sugar, as well as a small number of containerised cargo. PSA's ports, on the other hand, deal mostly with container shipments.
Last year, Jurong Port's local and overseas terminals handled close to 35 million tonnes of general and bulk cargo, as well as 560,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of container cargo.