Teo Chee Hean, Singapore’s deputy prime minister, received a rousing round of applause last night when announcing a further raft of initiatives designed to get more Singaporeans involved in the maritime sector.
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 Skills Future Earn and Learn programme for maritime – a one year course with a certificate and S$5,000 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.”
This view was something Esben Poulssen, the new SSA president, had talked about just ahead of the deputy prime minister.
Addressing the record crowd of more than 2,000 people at the Marina Bay Sands, Poulssen acknowledged that Singapore had been voted the world’s top maritime centre in a recent poll by Norway’s Menon Business Economics. “Whilst this is a great accolade, we cannot sit on our laurels,” he said, adding that there were a few areas where he felt the republic could do better – namely insurance and finance, the latter of which he commented: “We feel we are a little weak in the capital markets and listings.”