Singapore launches new initiative to attract more locals to manufacturing sector under economic plan for 2030
SINGAPORE: Singapore will launch a new initiative to attract more locals to join its manufacturing sector, while redoubling efforts to nurture a “vibrant core” of homegrown manufacturers, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Friday (Mar 4).
These are steps that the country is taking to achieve its Manufacturing 2030 vision. First announced in 2021, the goal is to grow the sector’s value-add by 50 per cent over the next 10 years.
“Good progress” has been made, said Mr Gan, noting that manufacturing grew “very significantly” by 13.2 per cent last year. The sector also attracted S$8.5 billion in total fixed asset investment, which will create more than 6,000 jobs when the projects are completed.
As a further push, more efforts will go into growing what the minister called “a vibrant core of Singapore global manufacturers” that are innovative and can deliver distinctive offerings to customers.
“Our economic agencies will provide bespoke support for manufacturers with strong potential, to deepen their capabilities and expand their global reach,” he added in a speech delivered during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
Mr Gan also spoke on the need to develop a strong local pipeline of talent and ensure that Singaporeans can access good jobs in the sector. To do so, companies will have to offer attractive career progression pathways in line with technological changes, and ensure these prospects are accessible, he said.
“We will therefore launch the M2030 Careers Initiative to work with the industry on achieving this, targeting especially our graduates from the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who have been trained with industry-relevant skills,” he told the House.
The new career initiative will include the development of a handbook for employers, covering a range of best practices and resources to help manufacturers develop structured career progression pathways for their employees.
The Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association, which is developing the handbook with industry partners and the institutes of higher learning, will identify and work with at least 20 companies to pilot the adoption of these practices and pathways.
“High-quality internship opportunities” for ITE students will also be available, with authorities hoping to secure 200 of such roles from 60 firms by the end of this year.
In addition, an Accelerated Pathways for Technicians and Assistant Engineers (Manufacturing) Grant will be piloted with selected companies.
This, according to Mr Gan, will support companies to hire and train ITE graduates for critical technician and assistant engineer roles through on-the-job training, with career progression and competitive salaries.
GROW TRADE, SERVICES AND ENTERPRISES BY 2030
The 2030 goal for manufacturing is part of a long-term “collective vision” for the overall economy, Mr Gan said.
Dubbed the Singapore Economy 2030 vision, it will outline the country’s ambition, provide direction and coordinate actions across four key pillars in the economy.
Apart from manufacturing, these pillars are trade, services and enterprises.
On trade, Singapore is aiming to grow its export value from S$805 billion in 2020 to at least S$1 trillion by 2030, said Mr Gan.
It also wants to double its offshore trade value to US$2 trillion (about S$2.7 trillion) over the same period, while capturing more re-exports and transhipment flows to embed Singapore more deeply into the global supply chains.
To achieve this Trade 2030 strategy, the country will work on building a strong ecosystem of trading companies and activities by, for one, attracting leading global traders to anchor more of their upstream, downstream and innovation activities here in Singapore.
These traders will also serve as platforms to help other Singapore firms to break into overseas markets, the minister said.
More efforts will also go into growing a strong core of local traders “that command global scale and are highly innovative”.
Mr Gan noted that Enterprise Singapore will tap on its programme offerings, such as Scale-up SG and the Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme, and provide support tailored to each firm’s circumstances and ambitions.
This support will cover areas such as talent development, innovation, internationalisation and financing.
Growing Singapore’s trading volume will create “good jobs” for Singaporeans, said Mr Gan, noting that the trading sector employed more than 300,000 people in 2020. Of which, the majority were locals and close to 70 per cent were PMET jobs.
As the trade sector continues to grow, the country must build a workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge, he added.
On top of a Jobs Transformation Map and other sector-specific workforce upgrading initiatives that are already under way, authorities are also working with the industry and institutes of higher learning to develop more talent in the trading of commodities such as liquified natural gas and carbon credits.
For the services sector, which represents more than 70 per cent of the Singapore economy, Mr Gan touched on the need to develop new engines of growth and highlighted two “major waves of opportunities” – sustainability and digitalisation.
The Singapore Economy 2030 vision will also need to be supported by a vibrant ecosystem of local enterprises that are future-ready, globally competitive and possess deep innovative capabilities.
These enterprises will in turn create good jobs and meaningful careers for Singaporeans, the minister told the House.
Likewise, the country will embark on an Enterprise 2030 strategy to “scale up efforts to identify and support promising local businesses”, Mr Gan said.