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05 Jun 2023
5 mins
Redesign and Scale Up Traditional Maritime Roles

Traditional maritime roles can be redesigned.

Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, made this point at the Singapore Maritime Week Maritime Manpower Forum, organised by Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on 29 April 2023 at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

The Forum was part of the 17th edition of Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) which featured close to 50 events and some 20,000 participants in attendance. The theme this year, ‘Ambition Meets Action’, brought together the international maritime community to take collective action on achieving the goals of decarbonisation, innovation, talent, and services.

In his speech, SM Chee highlighted that MPA and Singapore Maritime Foundation have partnered Pacific Carriers Limited and Pacific International Lines to undertake job redesign pilot projects for the roles of vessel operator and technical superintendent.

For example, the pilots showed that the career pathway for vessel operators can be widenedand barriers to entry can be lowered by introducing an assistant technician superintendent role so that more opportunities are made available to a wider group of workers.

On the latter, SMOU is “heartened to hear that more seafarers can gain experience and move up the progression ladder as assistant technician superintendents”, SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew responded to SeaVoices. “SMOU initiated this job redesign pilot project with NTUC. We are delighted that MPA, SMF together with PCL and PIL have achieved a good outcome from the initiative.”

The successful pilots demonstrated the feasibility and benefits of job redesign, and provided learning points and recommendations. The learnings are captured in the Maritime Workforce
Transformation Guidebook on Job Redesign, published with Ernst & Young, for
future maritime job redesign efforts.

The Guidebook can be downloaded from either or

“It is important that we put our hearts and minds together and strengthen the attractiveness and accessibility of such roles.

“The industry needs to continually work with the government and unions to redesign jobs, to adapt to the skills and demands of the available talent pool, so that the jobs in the maritime industry remain accessible and attractive,” SM Chee said.

The next step is to scale-up the adoption of job redesign across the maritime industry.

Companies setting up Company Training Committee (CTC) can benefit from co-funding from NTUC. The Ministry of Finance had earlier provided NTUC a S$70 million grant to support companies in various areas, including projects to strengthen their digitalisation capabilities, improve productivity and certainly, redesign jobs. So far, more than 1,300 CTCs have been set up, benefitting 100,000 workers across different industries in Singapore.

At the official opening of the forum, SM Chee also announced the Singapore will have its first maritime post-graduate scholarship.

The MaritimeONE-Singapore Maritime Institute Postgraduate Research and Development Scholarship aims to further strengthen Singapore’s maritime R&D ecosystem and build up a pipeline of local talent to deepen research capabilities in key areas such as digitalisation and decarbonisation.

Nine post-graduate scholarships worth $2.8 million in total will be offered by the Singapore Maritime Institute and fully cover the tuition fees for entire PhD or master’s programme.

The scholars will work in the different maritime Centres of Excellence after their postgraduate studies.

He went to encourage Singaporeans with a passion in fields such as Emissions Management, Chemical Engineering, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and many other disciplines, to apply for this scholarship when applications open later this year.

Besides the Maritime Workforce Transformation Guidebook on Job Redesign and the maritime post-graduate scholarship, this year’s SMW also featured two other new initiatives. For the first time, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is participating in the MPAGlobal Internship Award (GIA)3. To further engage the next-generation maritime workforce, dialogues with youth were also included for the first time at SMW and the ‘Youth@SMW’ platform for focus-group discussions amongst youth on the future of the maritime sector.

“The transformation of the maritime industry is only possible if we secure a pipeline of talent with the necessary future-ready skills. The advantage of Maritime Singapore is the strong partnership and trust that we have built up over the years among our tripartite partners – government, employers and unions. This is something that is very precious, and we need to deepen this trust and partnership further because we need to continue our close collaboration and help one another along the transformation journey,” SM Chee said.

“And always remember to place the safety and well-being of our people at the heart of everything we do, because every worker matters.”

“This year, the theme for SMW is “Ambition Meets Action”. In other words, our aspirations for the sector must be met with decisive action. Hence, we must launch practical solutions to achieve our shared ambitions in three focus areas: decarbonisation, digitalisation, and maritime talent.” 

– Minister for Transport Mr S. Iswaran at the Singapore Maritime Week 2023 Opening Ceremony

“As we accelerate our journey towards a sustainable future, shipping must embrace decarbonisation, alongside digitalisation, automation and innovative technologies ensuring safety and cyber security and, most importantly, that maritime personnel, and in particular our seafarers are kept front and centre of the technology transition. 

Seafarers are key to shipping – and their wellbeing is paramount.

We owe it to future generations to ensure that we leave them a planet that can sustain humankind for generations to come.”

– Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr Kitack Lim, in his keynote address