5,000 more jobs to be created in sea transport sector [TODAY Online]

The industry transformation map was unveiled by Senior Minister of State (Transport and Health) Lam Pin Min on Friday (12 Jan).


Over the next decade, more than 5,000 additional jobs and S$4.5 billion in value-add will be generated in the sea transport sector under its industry transformation map (ITM) launched on Friday (Jan 12).

The blueprint lays out the restructuring plans for the shipping, port, maritime services segments of the maritime sector, which contributes 7 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product and employs over 170,000 people.

Unveiled by Senior Minister of State (Transport and Health) Lam Pin Min at an industry event, the ITM was developed by the Maritime and Port of Authority of Singapore (MPA) in partnership with the industry, unions and other government agencies. A common theme among the ITMs for the various sectors, digitalisation will also be key in driving the sector’s transformation. In the process, some existing jobs will be reskilled and redesigned into roles that tap on digital skills.

For example, port workers will learn to operate in a more automated environment with the new port coming up in Tuas. Seafarers will also operate smart vessels remotely in the future, while port crane operators who currently operate a single crane at any one time, will be able to supervise up to five cranes while seated in an operations centre.

At a media briefing earlier in the week, MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said there will be many opportunities for a whole spectrum of roles including marine surveyors, shipping operations officers, ship agents, shipbrokers, charterers, port operations officers.

Mr Tan stressed that the restructuring does not entail displacement of workers. “We will make sure that those that are currently doing those jobs will be retrained and reskilled to play the new roles,” he said.

He noted that the existing workforce in the sea transport sector are professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are in a “good position to reskill themselves” by learning new skills such as data analytics and systems engineering.

For instance, more data analysts will be required as maritime companies tap data analytics to monitor fleet-wide performance. New roles would also require individuals who are well-versed in systems engineering to design and manage complex integrated systems, in order to synchronise manned and unmanned activities in the Tuas mega port.

First announced in 2012, the new port will consolidate all of Singapore’s port operations in a single location. It will open in four phases, with the first berths expected to be operational in 2021.

Apart from retraining the rank and file, Mr Tan stressed the importance of grooming the next generation of maritime industry leaders. “One of the feedback we get when we engage the industry is that our locals do not have that global mindset. So we want to promote greater global mindsets by giving more exposure opportunities to those in leadership positions,” he said.

The digitalisation drive will give the Republic a strategic competitive advantage in the global maritime industry, amid growing competition from countries such as China which are building up their infrastructures.

“It is important that among other maritime clusters, the Singapore maritime cluster is the first to move ahead in this space,” said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan reiterated that digitalisation will bring immediate benefits to the industry – greater efficiency and savings in time and costs through the streamlining of processes.

Among other initiatives, Singapore is investing in new port capabilities such as a fleet of 30 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) which have been deployed in a trial, along with automated yard cranes and quay cranes in the Pasir Panjang Terminal. Deployment of such automated systems will be scaled up in the Tuas port. The unmanned vehicles run 24/7 and have zero emissions, as they are fully battery powered. They are used to transport large containers within the port.

Along with the launch of the ITM, several memorandums of understanding (MOU) were signed between MPA and tripartite partners on Friday.

For example, an MOU signed between Singapore Customs, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and MPA will cover the digitalisation of trade and maritime documents such as a bill of lading — a document issued by a carrier to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment. The effort could involve the use of blockchain technology, said Mr Tan.

The implementation of the sea transport ITM will require various stakeholders to work together, and the MOU signings are a demonstration of their commitment, he noted.

MOUs to boost maritime startup ecosystem

To encourage innovation and explore new growth areas, the Maritime Technology Acceleration Programme (MTAP) will be launched, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Friday (Jan 12) by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise.

The three-year collaboration will include a residency partnership at Block 71 at the JTC Launchpad @ One North. The two organisations will jointly organise activities to foster the maritime startup ecosystem here such as running the Smart Port Challenge (SPC), and building awareness among the startup community on opportunities in the maritime and port industry.

The SPC is an annual competition for global start-ups to tackle challenges in the port, shipping and maritime logistics clusters.

MPA and NUS Enterprise will also shortlist start-ups from the SPC to develop their prototypes through a 10-week curriculum that consist of training and mentorship. At the end of the initiative, the start-ups will pitch their solutions to a judging panel, and successful start-ups will be provided grants to carry out proof-of-concept or product development projects with industry partners.

MPA chief executive Andrew Tan noted that the startup ecosystem in the maritime industry is at a nascent stage. "The level of awareness (of) opportunities in the maritime sector (for startups) is not very high. There are very attractive propositions from other sectors like banking, Fintech, to attract startups… we will start this initiative in a small way, and will nest it in an existing ecosystem. It cannot be done in a vacuum, and we need an existing ecosystem such as Block 71."

Separately, an MOU was inked by start-up Glee Tree, MPA and the Singapore Shipping Association for the development of a robotic process automation technology in the ship agency sector.

The technology serves to automate manual processes such as data extraction, entry and validation. Glee Tree was founded by Mr Christopher Lim, 39 and Ms Ada Lim, 38 about 18 months ago.

Speaking to TODAY, Marine Nexus CEO Eric Chean, 27, who has been running his maritime startup for the past two years, said the maritime start-up ecosystem in Singapore is "extremely small", compared to the size of the industry.

"This is an antiquated industry that has a very traditional approach to doing things. The industry also does not believe in innovation as much compared to other industries," said Mr Chean.

Acknowledging the Government's efforts to spur innovation in the sector, he added: "(It) cannot do everything. The private sector must also step-up."

Source: TODAY Online

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