More initiatives to help upskill workers in the logistics sector: Koh Poh Koon

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon touring Toll City, a next-generation logistics hub at Tuas, on Jan 31, 2019. PHOTO: ST LOGISTICS

SINGAPORE - Efforts are underway to boost the logistics industry by improving the skills of workers in the sector, said the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, who is also NTUC deputy Secretary-General, told an event on Thursday (Jan 31): "The logistics sector forms the backbone of our economy and contributes to our quality of life; it is crucial in ensuring that goods move from production and distribution sites to businesses, households, and consumers in a reliable and efficient manner.

"Emerging business and technology trends such as big-data, 3D printing and digitalisation bring about new growth opportunities.

"Companies need to be agile to seize these new opportunities, and in turn, there will be improvements to existing jobs, as well as exciting new job opportunities."

He added that to stay ahead, the scale of the sector's transformation will need to be accelerated. Businesses will also need to work with government agencies, trade associations and chambers, unions and institutes of higher learning.

Dr Koh made his remarks at a ceremony to mark agreements that homegrown firm ST Logistics has signed with NTUC LearningHub and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The agreements aim to improve skills in the logistics workforce, ST Logistics said.

Its memorandum of understanding with NTUC LearningHub allows both parties to start working together on skills-upgrading efforts, while the partnership with NUS will provide more training opportunities for working adults.

These initiatives will give logistics workers opportunities to gain new skills and certification through technology courses, specialist certificates and bachelor and Masters programmes.

Mr Loganathan Ramasamy, chief executive (designate) of ST Logistics, said: "In the face of increased automation and digitisation in the supply chain and logistics industry, developing our workers to help them adapt and stay in sync with the changes is crucial for our continued success."

Dr Koh announced on the sidelines of the event held at Toll City, a next-generation logistics hub at Tuas, that Workforce Singapore will add 200 places in the Professional Conversion Programmes for logistics officers and executives to encourage more professionals to enter the sector.

More than 450 professionals, managers and executives have moved into the industry through such programmes since June 2017.

NTUC will also lead the formation of company training committees through the Supply-Chain Employees' Union. These committees will include managers and workers, who will look at how to curate training that is required on the ground.

The committees can also look at how to redesign jobs and encourage workers to go for retraining or reskilling.

Dr Koh noted: "If more stakeholders and partners can come together and find working collaboration... then this is the kind of ground-up initiatives we want to see happening in our workplaces."

"Companies will need to embrace innovation, and to do so, it is critical that our workforce are equipped with the right skills to lead in innovating.

"Together with national-level efforts to reskill, upgrade and future-proof our workforce, we will reinforce Singapore's position as a leading logistics hub through operations excellence, innovation and a strong Singaporean core."

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