OPENING ADDRESS BY MR NIAM CHIANG MENG, CHAIRMAN, MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, AT THE MARITIME MANPOWER FORUM VIA SINGAPORE MARITIME WEEK PLATFORM LIVESTREAM ON 22 APRIL 2021, 10:00 AM

22 April 2021

ACCELERATING MARITIME WORKFORCE TRANSFORMATION

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1     Good morning. A warm welcome to the Maritime Manpower Forum. For those of you who joined us at other Singapore Maritime Week events throughout this week, I hope that you have found them useful for appreciating the new frontiers and shifting paradigms in the maritime sector.

2     In order to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, we have seen companies in every sector introduce new ways of working, and use technology to aid business continuity. And in many cases, this has led to new business models, forced companies to go digital, at least earlier than they ever wanted, and also innovate and find creative ways to survive. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it is that if organisations do not change, and do not do it quickly, they would not survive.

3     What we should be thankful for is that the maritime global supply chain remained largely intact. For this, let me thank all those working in the maritime industry and our seafarers for ensuring the stable supply of especially essential goods across countries today. Otherwise, this current crisis would have been far worse for all – because clearly, no countries will be spared in this deeply interconnected world.

Attracting talent from a position of resilience

4     While 2020 threw us many challenges, it also presented us with opportunities. I want to say a few words about attracting talent from a position of resilience. Let me briefly mention 4 areas where we see more jobs being created in the next few years in Singapore’s maritime sector.

5     First, as our next generation port in Tuas gradually begin operations, much of which will be digitalised and automated, more skilled jobs will be created in the port ecosystem. For instance, PSA will need more systems engineering professionals to design and maintain the port’s complex automated systems.

6     Second, we will be working hard to bring in more investments for our International Maritime Centre. Specifically, we are targeting to bring in S$20 billion in business spending commitments from shipping companies between 2020 to 2024. The economic spinoffs from this would provide more job opportunities for our workforce.

7     Third, as part of our strategy to identify and adopt new technologies, MPA will support more maritime R&D projects, and we aim to triple the number of maritime technology start-ups supported under our programmes by 2025. We hope this will spur new, highly skilled jobs for our graduates and others to look forward to.

8     Finally, you are aware of our plans to go green and to develop alternative energy sources. We hope to embark on a green journey which will make us more relevant for what is to come, not just in the area of greener fuel but also being less reliant on fossil fuel for all our operations. This will require different skillsets and job types which will again be available for our workforce.

MPA and SMF are taking the lead to attract and develop talent

9     So if things work out, we will have the jobs. But we need to attract talent to think of the maritime sector and to develop existing talent. How can we do this? MPA and Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) will intensify efforts to attract and develop talents in the following ways:

10    First, MPA has started a talent attraction campaign. Some of you may have seen videos in mainstream media and alternative social media about the promising prospects in our sector. We had a Channel News Asia documentary, “Colours of the Sea”, on four millennials pursuing their dreams in the maritime sector. We even had political office holders like our Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat talking about prospects in the sector in one of the videos. These are part of MPA’s efforts to inform jobseekers that our sector is multifaceted, inclusive and exciting. More will need to be done, perhaps making use of our heroes like our recent International Maritime Award recipients, our ship captains, individual owners of our maritime start-ups, to explain what they do and make the sector attractive for our younger workers.

11    Second, SMF will enhance their Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) website to improve the functionalities and user experience regarding job vacancies and individualised job matching. It is an important portal and we hope to make the user experience a really good one.

12    Third, you may also be aware of the recently announced Maritime Leadership Programme. Over 10 days, it will help junior management staff gain fresh perspectives on global maritime issues, develop leadership capabilities, and cultivate industry networks. The inaugural run will take place in the second half of 2021, and we look forward to working with companies to develop our business leaders of tomorrow.

Maritime companies need to play a part in manpower development

13    MPA and SMF cannot do all this alone. We need the support of all our maritime companies.

14    To this end, I am encouraged to see that the maritime community remains committed to investing in the next generation. This year, more than 30 forward-looking organisations have generously pledged S$2.5 million towards the MaritimeONE Scholarship programme. Amongst them are four new partners: Maersk Group, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Asiatic Lloyd and Equatorial Marine.

15    Later, colleagues from Mercer will be sharing about why, and how, some maritime jobs might potentially look different in the future. Their sharing will help guide the subsequent discussion and sharing by our HR and transformation leaders. After today, MPA and our partners will conduct industry consultations, to discuss the maritime jobs that may be suitable for job redesign and seek like-minded partners to work with moving forward. I invite you to come forward and be part of this movement.

Conclusion

16    Today’s session might not provide all the answers you are looking for, but I hope it will provide you with some direction, and food for thought. MPA looks forward to working with your organisations, to shape the future of work in maritime. Thank you.

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