SINGAPORE: Innovation will be a key focus for the energy and chemicals industry of the future, Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang announced at the unveiling of its industry transformation map (ITM) on Saturday (Oct 21).
The ITM, which was developed by a multi-agency team along with industry partners, unions and trade associations, outlines strategies aimed at transforming the industry into a globally competitive and leading energy and chemicals hub.
“While we have done well to get to where we are, we face new challenges in the road ahead,” said Mr Lim.
“Rapid technology advancements are disrupting value chains across industries, while creating new possibilities and opportunities. At the same time, the global operating environment remains uncertain,” Mr Lim added, citing uncertainty over oil prices and increasing demand for cleaner fuels and lubricants.
Through the ITM efforts, the industry is expected to achieve a manufacturing value-add of S$12.7 billion and introduce 1,400 new jobs by 2025, Mr Lim said.
ITM TO FOCUS ON INNOVATION
The ITM will focus on innovation by using technology to transform its current chemicals manufacturing, such by scaling up adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies.
"Advanced manufacturing technologies will enable our companies to be more competitive by overcoming land, labour and carbon constraints as well as raising productivity," Mr Lim said.
The ITM has set a target for at least 20 plants, including all refineries and petrochemical plants, to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies by 2020.
To capture growth opportunities in the region, the industry will also diversify into higher value added petrochemical products and specialty chemicals. These include ingredients for shampoos and animal feed.
The Government will also work with companies to strengthen industry knowledge and capabilities, as well as provide support for companies who co-innovate solutions with partners.
For example, the Economic Development Board and A*STAR embarked on a joint technology road mapping exercise last year to help identify and address common needs and gaps of companies, which the Government will then invest in developing.
The ITM aims for 20 application development centres to be set up or expanded by 2025, with an increase of S$55 million in business expenditure on research and development.
More partnerships between multinationals, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as research institutes and institutes of higher learning, will also be a key focus.
NEW JOBS IN THE PIPELINE
With the transformation of the energy and chemicals industry, an estimated 1,400 new jobs will be created by 2025.
"Talent remains at the heart of our strategies," Mr Lim said. "We will continue to equip Singaporeans with the necessary skills to stay relevant and benefit from the growth opportunities."
To equip Singaporeans with the skills to take on these jobs, a Skills Framework for the industry was also launched. The new framework covers six career tracks, including production and process engineering, application and product development, as well as research and development.
Training programmes to acquire technical skills such as Internet of things management, and robotic and automation technology application will be launched under this framework.
To attract more students to join the industry, two new work-learn programmes for ITE graduates will also be rolled out next year. This is on top of four SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes launched earlier this year, which has placed more than 65 ITE and polytechnic graduates in energy and chemicals companies so far.
The ITM was launched on the sidelines of the 10th edition of the Singapore Chemical Industry Experience event. Organised by the Singapore Chemical Industry Council, the annual event aims to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industry among tertiary students.
Currently, Singapore has three refineries producing more than 1.3 million barrels a day, making it the world’s fifth largest refinery export hub and among the top ten global chemical hubs by chemicals export volume. The industry accounted for almost S$78 billion in total output and employed over 28,400 workers as of 2015.