The Singapore Maritime Week took place between 19 April to 23 April this year, with the theme “New Frontiers, Shifting Paradigms”, and discussion topics on the changes in the Maritime industry that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to catalyse.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, then Minister for Transport Mr Ong Ye Kung suggested four frontiers to focus the minds of players of the maritime industry to do better in a post-pandemic world – resilience, digitalisation, decarbonisation, and talent.
On resilience, he highlighted Singapore’s continued efforts during this time of the pandemic to ensure crew change can take place in Singapore safely. To further bolster resilience efforts, frontline maritime personnel including seafarers have also been prioritised to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Mr Ong also spoke on the importance of digitalisation for Singapore as a transhipment hub. Digitalisation and technology can be tapped on to optimise shipping and port processes and break into new frontiers.
The Singapore port, as a major transshipment hub in the global supply network, also has a crucial role to play in decarbonisation. Mr Ong touched on various initiatives to reduce emissions and using cleaner energy sources such as LNG fuels and the fully electrical new Tuas Port. MPA is also working towards developing the Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050 for the future of our industry. Singapore will also join international decarbonisation efforts by introducing a levy on marine fuel consumption mooted by International Chamber of Shipping.
On the talent frontier, Mr Ong said that Singapore’s diverse economic activities has put us in a good position where our talent in Singapore has many available choices and options as long as they acquire the necessary skills.
Chief Executive Officer of the MISC Group, Mr Yee Yang Chien echoed Mr Ong’s point on talent saying that as the maritime industry moves ahead, we need to “do more to reskill and retool our seafarers to ensure that our seafarers are equipped and trained for the transitions to come. Education of new cadets must fundamentally be reviewed to ensure that they are prepared correctly with practical skillsets and competencies for the future of shipping.”
He stressed on the importance of maritime workers, saying that it is easy in the journey towards industry goals to focus on assets, systems, and processes, but it is so easy to forget the human element – our seafarers.
“I am a very big supporter of our seafarers. I strongly believe they are our license to exist as ship owners and ship operators. They are our true front liners, our ambassadors. Without them we do not have a business to run.” – Mr Yee Yang Chien
Talent of the Singapore Maritime Industry
Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman of MPA delivered an opening address at the Maritime Manpower Forum speaking on four areas that will create jobs in the coming years for the Maritime Industry. The first is the next generation Tuas Port which will house many digitalised and automated operations, which will require more skilled workers to design and maintain the port’s complex automated systems. Secondly MPA has targeted to bring in $20 billion in business spending commitment as investments for our International Maritime Centre. The economic spinoffs from this would provide more job opportunities for our workforce.
Thirdly, MPA will support more maritime R&D projects, tripling the number of maritime technology start-ups supported by the programme by 2025, which may spur highly skilled jobs for Singaporeans. And lastly, going green and alternative energy sources will create jobs that require different skillsets and job types which will be available for our workforce.
Attracting Talent for the Future
As jobs will be create in the upcoming years, MPA and the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) will also intensify efforts to attract and develop talents for these roles. Mr Niam highlighted recent efforts to feature prospects of the Maritime industry in mainstream media and alternative social media through a talent attraction campaign. He added that more will be done in this area to show that the maritime sector is multifaceted, inclusive, exciting, and to make the sector attractive to the young.
The SMF will also be enhancing their Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) portal to improve functionalities and help job seekers better find job vacancies and individualized job matching. MPA also recently launched a Maritime Leadership Programme which will help junior management staff gain fresh perspective on global maritime issues, develop leadership capabilities and cultivate industry networks.
In closing, Mr Ong encouraged the maritime sector to draw young potentials by getting them to love the sea, for our maritime industry to deepen international collaboration. Singapore needs to be committed to collaborating with others and be driven by our love for the sea and the idea that the oceans are our most important global commons which hold the common heritage of mankind and connect rather than separate the peoples of different lands.