Singapore strengthens edge in logistics amid pandemic

Singapore enhanced its reputation as an international hub amid the crisis by keeping the country open to trade. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - In the midst of a global pandemic that has disrupted supply chains, Singapore has strengthened its status as a global logistics hub and sees the sector as one of the bright sparks in its economy going forward, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Oct 27).

It is expected to grow as investments flow in and also create quality jobs for Singaporeans, he added.

Some parts of the logistics sector were hard hit by the pandemic but other segments continued to grow and hire workers, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in its weekly jobs report.

There are currently more than 2,100 opportunities for workers available in the sector, of which more than 1,300 are jobs, 510 are company-hosted traineeships and attachments, and 290 are training opportunities.

About one in three of the 1,300 available jobs are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians, with some paying median salaries between $5,000 and $5,500.

Mr Chan noted that Singapore enhanced its reputation as an international hub amid the crisis by keeping the country open to trade even as global supply chains were disrupted.

Singapore was also helped by the efficiency of its operations and the reliability of its policies.

"We have distinguished ourselves in how we lean forward to make sure that the integrity of our supply chains was maintained. We did not impose any additional restrictions, we did not impose any export controls," said Mr Chan.

But the impact of the pandemic on the logistics sector has been uneven, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo noted Tuesday.

"There were companies that were affected by the reduction in airfreight capacity such as those serving hard-hit sectors including aviation and aerospace," she said.

"At the same time, companies servicing e-commerce and healthcare sector saw an increase in operations activities and requirements. These companies continued to hire and take on board more people."

Mrs Teo and Mr Chan were speaking to the media after their visit to German logistics firm DB Schenker's Red Lion facility in Changi.

The logistics sector is a key pillar of Singapore's economy and contributed $6.8 billion or 1.4 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product in 2019. It employs over 86,000 workers across more than 5,300 business entities. Mr Chan pointed out that Singapore has moved towards higher value-added logistics services, such as contract logistics that provide customised and end-to-end solutions for companies.

High-value sectors such as biopharmaceuticals and info-communications technology are attracted to Singapore, and these can create more good jobs for Singaporeans, he noted.

Leading global firms such as DHL, UPS and DB Schenker have also made Singapore their regional headquarters, while GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever have located their regional supply chain management teams here.

In the next five years, major logistics firms here are planning to create about 1,500 new jobs in the sector based on investment commitments in 2018 and 2019, said Mr Chan. Investments in digital transformation will also bring about new capabilities and jobs in digitalisation and automation within the industry, he added.

Mrs Teo also allayed fears that the use of technology may take jobs away from workers.

"When companies use technology, they can operate more efficiently and attract more customers. This increased growth leads to an expansion of workforce, while changing the qualitative nature of their work," she said.

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