SINGAPORE: A new blueprint has been launched to lift the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) sector out of the doldrums.
The sector is expected to add 1,500 new jobs and contribute S$5.8 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 through its Industry Transformation Map (ITM).
The roadmap, developed by a multi-agency team led by the Economic Development Board (EDB), was launched on Thursday (Feb 22) by Minister of Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran.
The ITM has three main aims: To invest in innovation and improve productivity, to pursue new growth areas and to equip Singaporeans with relevant skills.
The government will be supporting such efforts by helping companies invest in advanced manufacturing, as well as their research & development (R&D) initiatives.
The ITM has also identified new growth areas such as the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and offshore wind sectors as a way for companies to diversify.
To equip Singaporeans with new skills to perform high-skilled roles and in these new growth areas, the Skills Framework for the sector was also launched today as part of the ITM.
It provides information on the various career pathways and identifies several emerging skills needed, such as additive manufacturing and green ship design.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Iswaran said the industry "can be cautiously optimistic" if it can deepen capabilities to seize opportunities.
Singapore's M&OE sector has been going through a global downturn since oil prices collapsed in 2014.
According to the President of the Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Employees' Union (SMEEU) Tommy Goh, over 40,000 workers have either been retrenched or not had their contracts renewed since early 2016, when oil prices tumbled to below US$30 a barrel.
Mr Iswaran told reporters that although the 1,500 new jobs added to the sector is fewer than the number of people retrenched, the focus of the ITM is about creating high-value jobs.
“When you're talking about the displacements and so on in the sector, many of those have been from the lower-end of the job spectrum. The numbers may seem modest but they are really a reflection of the shift in focus and the kind of value-adding jobs that are being sought as part of this ITM process,” he said.
Mr Goh from SMEEU said digitalisation brings about different ways of working. “There is no more working in the yard like it was in the last decade or last three decades. It will be a very different platform,” he added.
Mr Iswaran also announced the establishment of the ITM programme office, which will be led by the Association of Singapore Marine Industries.
The office will help to execute various ITM initiatives.