1,000 training and attachment opportunities to be offered in maritime sector

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat said the openings reflect in-demand skills in the industry. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - There will be a total of 1,000 training slots, company attachments as well as traineeship opportunities offered in the maritime sector to Singaporeans and permanent residents in the coming months.

The openings will be in areas such as automation systems, digital transformation, shipping operations and maritime superintendency.

Speaking on Thursday (Oct 22) at the 10th Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) Forum, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat said the openings reflect in-demand skills in the industry, but can also benefit trainees if they later decide to join other sectors.

"Our maritime sector is not only resilient, it is actually growing from strength to strength during this pandemic. This is the challenge we have set for ourselves... how to grow Maritime Singapore and create more good jobs," said Mr Chee.

"Besides creating new jobs, we must also help our people to develop the skills to take on these jobs."

The Government said in August that there were 200 openings in the sector with Mr Chee announcing an additional 800 places on Thursday.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is partnering SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG), the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), maritime companies and institutes of higher learning to provide the opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Initiative, the organisations said in a joint statement on Thursday.

MPA and SSG are also collaborating with institutes such as Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore Management University, National University of Singapore (NUS), and with firms including PSA, DNV GL and American Bureau of Shipping, on training opportunities through the SGUnited Skills Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways - Company Training Programme.

The forum held at NUS saw a discussion on the future of port and shipping, where panellists spoke on the role of research and innovation in developing future ports, and automation and sustainability in shipping.

In his speech, Mr Chee said Covid-19 has greatly disrupted many sectors globally and changed our way of life. However, Singapore's maritime sector has remained resilient.

But he added: "As supply chains shift and become more complex, due to Covid-19 and other global developments, we must be ready to adapt and remain relevant."

Among other things, the sector must embrace digitalisation, which is fundamentally changing business models and processes across different sectors, said Mr Chee, who emphasised the importance of global collaboration in the sector in areas such as automation.

"In the maritime sector, digitalisation will be a game-changer for companies to enhance their productivity and differentiate themselves from the competition," he added, saying it will create new opportunities for collaborations with other industries like logistics and manufacturing.

Mr Chee also addressed the issue of decarbonisation, which refers to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

He said decarbonisation will change the face of maritime, such as the type of marine fuel used, the design of vessels, and how port infrastructure and operations are organised.

As Singapore is the world's largest transshipment hub and a major maritime centre, Mr Chee noted that the country will do its part in the fight against climate change by supporting the International Maritime Organisation's emissions targets.

"We do not believe that being a place that is 'business friendly' is at odds with being 'environmentally friendly'," he noted.

The maritime industry here must turn these challenges into advantages with innovation and experimentation, and also take risks and accept some failure along the way, he said.

At the event, he launched two new research and development initiatives by the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports, to create digital models of ports.

PortML is a set of universal programming language standards, while SINGAPort Studio is a software suite that uses PortML to design and build digital twins.

These models in which port authorities and operators can test out solutions for different operating scenarios, reduce the disruption to core port operations and delays to customers.

"By establishing a common modelling language and software suite, innovations developed for different ports can then be inter-operable, to support international collaborations and maritime operations around the world," said Mr Chee.

He shared that 12 partners in total from Europe, China, Japan, and South Korea have shown interest in the platform. He invited more global partners to adopt it.

In his speech, Mr Chee said the Government will provide a regulatory environment that supports business and innovation.

"When we succeed in attaining sustainable growth, we can also achieve other important outcomes like creating good jobs for our workers and putting in place industry practices that protect the environment," he said.

Mr Chee on Thursday also launched the Roadmap for Smart and Autonomous Maritime Transport Systems.

The event also saw the renewal of a memorandum of understanding between MPA and the American Bureau of Shipping, which will set up a new centre of excellence in Singapore, and also provide training opportunities for the maritime workforce.

MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said that the maritime sector must continue to push ahead with digitalisation and automation despite the pandemic.

"With Maritime Singapore's industry transformation, talent attraction and retention are key in this endeavour. Singaporeans can look forward to benefit from exciting and rewarding careers in the maritime industry," she said.

SSA president Caroline Yang said that Covid-19 has accentuated the need for companies and workers to retool and reskill to meet the changing global shipping industry, and urged members of the maritime community to participate in the training programmes.

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