SINGAPORE: More than 5,000 jobs, most of which are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), will be created in the maritime sector by 2025 as part of the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) launched on Friday (Jan 12).
The roadmap aims to grow the sector's value-add by S$4.5 billion and ensure that Singapore remains a leading maritime hub, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.
“We have to continue to paddle hard to stay ahead. We not only have to continue to deliver world-class port services, we must also capture new growth opportunities and strengthen our value proposition to the world," said Dr Lam as he launched the roadmap at the Singapore Maritime Foundation’s New Year cocktail reception on Friday evening.
"This means we must fundamentally relook at the way we operate our businesses, as well as the kind of capabilities our maritime workforce needs," he added.
The maritime industry contributes to 7 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product and employs more than 170,000 people.
In 2017, the country’s container throughput grew by 9 per cent to 33.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), reflecting improvements in global trade growth.
Singapore also handled a record total of 626.2 million tonnes of cargo last year, a 5.5 per cent increase from 2016.
The Government had announced plans to develop ITMs for more than 20 sectors during Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's Budget 2016 speech in March.
The sea transport ITM marks the 16th ITM launched by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with seven more to go by April.
DRIVING INNOVATION AND PRODUCTIVITY
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is leading the roadmap with industry stakeholders to drive innovation and productivity through various initiatives.
One such effort includes MPA and port operator PSA jointly stepping up research and development, and capability development in the areas of digitalisation, automation and robotics under the MPA-PSA Port Technology Research and Development Programme.
For example, automated yard cranes and quay cranes, as well as a fleet of 30 automated guided vehicles have already been deployed in Pasir Panjang Terminal.
MPA said the deployment of such automated systems will be scaled up in the upcoming Tuas mega port. When fully completed by 2040, the Tuas port will be able to handle up to 65 million TEUs of cargo a year, and also eventually house current operations at Pasir Panjang, Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani container terminals.
MPA also said it will support companies’ efforts to adopt new technologies. One way it will be doing so is through its MPA Living Lab, which will offer technology developers and industry players a platform to co-develop and pilot such solutions.
MPA will also work with stakeholders to promote greater data and information sharing. This comes as increased digitalisation enables seamless real-time data sharing, and can significantly improve operational efficiencies for all entities in the logistics value chain.
When it comes to operational efficiencies, MPA will join forces with Singapore Customs and the Singapore Shipping Association to explore the digitalisation of trade and maritime documentation. This could include the development and adoption of electronic bills of lading, which would facilitate more efficient trade flows through Singapore.
In addition, the Singapore Maritime Institute will invest S$12 million to establish the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next-Generation Ports under the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The centre will leverage port modelling and simulation capabilities in NUS to enhance Singapore’s port’s ability to handle increasingly complex operations.
For instance, it will develop a digital replica of the future Tuas Terminal to simulate and assess the impact of various port designs and operational logistics on port efficiency.
BUILDING THE TALENT POOL
On the manpower front, more is also being done to prepare firms for a future where global transportation and supply chains will be disrupted by digitalisation.
This includes the need to equip the local maritime workforce with the skills to take on higher value-added jobs.
To achieve this, MPA will - through its Maritime Cluster Fund - provide part of the funds needed by companies to train their staff in areas such as infocomm technology and data analytics.
Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA, said that developing a multi-skilled maritime workforce requires a higher quality of maritime education and training.
"With any significant transformation of an industry (where) processes are automated and systems are made more intelligent, there's likely to be some disruption in terms of new jobs and new skills required, and old jobs will need to redesigned," said Mr Tan.
“It is important that the existing workforce is given opportunities to upgrade themselves. So if you ask me whether jobs will be changed or will be redesigned, the answer is yes. If you ask me whether jobs will be lost, it will not necessarily be the case if we can prepare our workforce."
Mr Tan added this can be achieved by working closely with the institutes of higher learning to prepare the young for the fast-changing industries.
"Make sure that as we look at the curriculum of the training institutes, universities, polytechnics and ITEs, there is close engagement and consultation with the industry. Because they are looking at how business models are being changed by the new technologies and this is where the new skills that are required should be factored in the review of the curriculum.
“That has to be an ongoing effort to ensure that this remains relevant. Through the ITM process, this will also be part and parcel of making sure that the future curriculum is also relevant for the needs of the industry," he said.
Ms Mary Liew, president of the National Trades Union Congress, agreed that it is critical that workers constantly re-skill and up-skill themselves to remain relevant and future-ready
She said: “The Labour Movement is committed to working closely with our tripartite partners to ensure our workers have the right skills to support growth in the maritime industry, as well as deliver concrete action plans to realise the benefits of the Industry Transformation Map for our working people.”
RAMPING UP CONNECTIVITY AND INTER-LINKAGE
During the launch of the ITM on Friday, Dr Lam also said that Singapore needs to strengthen its linkage with other international maritime clusters, in order to enhance its status as a key economic node of the global trading system and maintain its attractiveness as a leading international maritime centre.
This will be done through continuing to actively anchor and attract shipping lines. One such effort is the inaugural Maritime Capital Forum, which allows Singapore to serve as a platform to bring maritime companies and investors together. Looking ahead, Dr Lam said more of such initiatives will be implemented to further develop Singapore’s maritime financing landscape.
“The connectivity that we enjoy today is not due to chance but a result of disciplined investments in capability and infrastructure development.”