SINGAPORE: Local shipping companies can benefit from a new S$1.2 million fund provided by the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union (SMOU) to train Singaporean seafaring cadets.
The aim is to encourage partner companies to provide shipboard training for cadets from two existing training initiatives - the Tripartite Engineering Training Award (TETA) and Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA) - announced the union on Thursday (Feb 2).
The fund will be given out over two years. A shipping company can receive S$5,000 for each Singaporean cadet it takes on to offset the cost of having to provide training berths.
Up to 240 cadets are expected to benefit from the new funding scheme, which gives them the opportunity to have the training they require in order to move on to become full-fledged officers in future, said SMOU.
It added that training should continue, despite difficult times faced by the maritime industry.
“Faced with the prolonged volatile economic situation, shipping companies may naturally take cost-saving measures such as cutting down on training," said SMOU's general secretary, Mary Liew. "We are trying to reduce that as we need qualified seafarers to maintain a strong Singaporean core."
The need for industry support during tough economic times was a point highlighted by Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung on Thursday at a Chinese New Year luncheon organised by SMOU and its training arm Wavelink.
"There is a case to be made that now is the right time to push forward to further develop our Singapore core in the industry, to prepare for the upturn," he said, adding that it is opportune to invest in human capital whenever things are slow.
"The industry is well-poised to ride the next wave," Mr Ong added, noting that in 2016, Singapore retained its spot as the world's top bunkering port.
Separately, SMOU announced that funding support for the TNTA and TETA programmes will continue to be supported by SkillsFuture Singapore. Course fees and training allowances were heavily co-subsidised by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
TNTA and TETA are tripartite initiatives that started in 2010 and 2016 respectively, to train Singaporeans who want to take on a career change to become nautical officers or marine engineers working on board commercial ships.