Extra money is being spent in the Lion City to develop interest in maritime careers, but more is needed.
Teo Chee Hean, Singapore’s deputy prime minister, received a rousing round of applause in late September when announcing a further raft of initiatives designed to get more Singaporeans involved in the maritime sector.
In the next five years, the Sectoral Tripartite Committee for Transport (Sea) led by the Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) hopes to attract more than 1,200 Singaporeans to join the maritime sector as seafarers and port operations officers.
Speaking as guest of honour at a packed Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) dinner, Teo outlined more plans to alleviate the crunch in maritime human resources in the Lion Republic. These included a SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme for maritime – a one year course with a certificate and S$5,000 ($3,519) for anyone completing it plus S$15,000 for any employee who then takes on a trainee. The government also has launched Maritime Singapore Connect, a new portal for maritime jobs and information.
“Human capital is the key enabler for the future of maritime Singapore,” the deputy prime minister said.
Teo acknowledged the importance of maritime in Singapore’s economic make up, saying there were 5,000 companies involved in the sector locally, accounting for 7% of GDP and 170,000 employees.
Despite the nation’s preeminent status on the global maritime map these days, Teo warned: “We also face intense global competition.”
The news comes as human resources remains one of the most pressing issues for maritime firms operating in the Lion Republic, as evidenced throughout Splash’s recently published magazine on the city-state and our annual Singapore survey.
MPA’s chief executive is adamant that government is handling the issue and has put the correct resources in place to address the perceived shortage, telling Splash: “We are on top of this now.”
The private sector, while applauding the amount of money invested in developing local talent, remains concerned however that maritime is still not viewed as an attractive career option.
Matt Conway, from recruitment firm Faststream, speaks for many of the industry, noting: “Singapore is a talent short market, with a very finite talent pool of experienced and qualified professionals in the maritime industry.”
Hopefully, the results from Splash’s groundbreaking survey carried in this magazine will resonate with the powers that be.
This article first appeared in the recently published Singapore Market Report 2015, published by Splash. Readers can access the full magazine for free by clicking here.