5 August 2016, 3:00pm
Nicoll 1 & 2, Level 3, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon. I am encouraged by the strong turnout for the inaugural Maritime Singapore Connect or MSC Career Workshop today. The MSC Office, under the Singapore Maritime Foundation, was announced in September last year as a one-stop centre to promote greater awareness of the career opportunities in the maritime sector. This workshop is a new platform to bring together students from across various tertiary institutions with some of the most established names in the Singapore maritime industry. I understand that today’s event has been over-subscribed. We have more than 80 students from Singapore Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University.

Importance of Maritime Industry to Singapore

2. Let me share my own encounter with the maritime industry. Until two and half years ago before I took over as the Chief Executive of MPA, I had no inkling about the maritime sector other than the fact that Singapore was a trading post throughout its history. However, in the course of my duties, I have learnt three things about the sector. First, the maritime industry is the lifeline of the world economy as about 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea. It is also an important pillar of the Singapore economy, contributing 7% of GDP and employing around 170,000 people. The maritime industry comprises not only the port, but also shipping, offshore and marine engineering as well as a diverse range of maritime services such as ship broking, ship finance, marine insurance and maritime law and arbitration. As one of the world’s leading maritime nations, Singapore has done well as a global hub port. We are the world’s busiest container transshipment hub and the largest bunker port. Beyond the port, Singapore is also recognised internationally as a leading International Maritime Centre, as several global surveys, such as the Xinhua-Baltic Exchange and Menon studies, have reported. Today, we have more than 130 international shipping groups spanning across not only the traditional container, bulk and tanker sectors but also the offshore and LNG markets. Besides one of the highest concentrations of international shipping groups, Singapore offers a comprehensive range of both technical and commercial maritime services such as finance, broking, insurance, surveying, legal and arbitration.

New Initiatives to Ensure a Future Ready Maritime Singapore

3. Second, I would like to share several new exciting initiatives to make Maritime Singapore Future Ready. One good example is our Tuas Next Generation Port (NGP) project. We are building a new container port in the western part of the island at Tuas where we will relocate our city terminals when their leases expire in 2027. The Tuas NGP will be a state-of-the-art port that will be more efficient, intelligent, safe, secure, green and community-oriented port. It will also be the only port in the world able to handle up to 65 million TEUs at a single location The design of Tuas port takes into consideration the demands of mega vessels of tomorrow, which are around 400 m long. To put 400 m in perspective, the length of this vessel is slightly longer than the height of the Empire State Building in New York. It is also approximately the length of five Airbus A380 airplanes. PSA has already set up a “Living Lab” at Pasir Panjang Terminal to test-bed future technologies such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and automated quay and yard cranes. Our Tuas NGP will also be more than a container terminal. We will optimise the land footprint by making use of above ground and underground spaces. Eventually, along with other developments in the Western Region such as the Jurong Innovation District and Jurong Second CBD, our Tuas mega port will spur the re-development of Jurong as a new hub of activities that will support work, live and play.

A Cohesive & Resilient Community

4. Third, you will find out that the maritime sector in Singapore is a cohesive and resilient community. This community has weathered several crises in the past, and emerged more resilient. It comprises not only players like MPA but also the industry associations such as the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), which work very closely with us to develop and promote the industry. Another key pillar is the tripartite relationship between the government, industry and unions working together to build a future pipeline of talent into the maritime industry.

5. One good example of the tripartite partnership coming together is on the SkillsFuture Initiative for the maritime sector. Recently, it launched the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) in June, which allows fresh graduates to undergo structured learning both in classroom and OJT. ELPs for Port Operations, Seafaring Deck Officer and Marine Engineer have since been started. To supplement the pool of the existing maritime workforce, the Maritime Career Conversion Scheme (MCCS) was also introduced to target non-traditional sources of maritime manpower and support such individuals to join selected maritime jobs.

Role of Maritime Singapore Connect

6. Now that it has been formed, the Maritime Singapore Connect or MSC Office will help to connect students, jobseekers and the general public with maritime employers, industry associations, government agencies and schools. As a one-stop centre, the MSC will provide Singaporeans with easy access to maritime education, training and job opportunities.

7. I am happy to note that the MSC Maritime Insights Forum organised in July was very well-received. Over 60 education and career counsellors from schools and career centres under WDA and e2i attended, and they greatly appreciated this new platform to learn more about the different inroads to the maritime industry. This is just one way that the MSC Office is coming in to build bridges and strengthen connections between our industry and manpower pipelines. A new MSC online portal will also be launched later this year to make it easier for students and jobseekers to get connected with maritime opportunities.

8. For today, the MSC Career Workshop serves to highlight 6 SkillsFuture-aligned jobs in the port and shipping sectors, namely Port Engineer, Port Operations Executive, Shipbroker, Post-Fixture Officer,  Ship Charterer and Shipping Operations Executive. These are critical and important maritime jobs which command good salaries and have good career prospects, like many other careers in this industry.

9. Allow me to share with you about some of the qualities that the maritime industry looks out for. While we take in people of different profiles and skillsets for a wide range of roles, there are three qualities that I feel are particularly important.

10. Firstly, you need to be a “people person”. Social and interpersonal skills are relevant in any given domain, but the ability to communicate well, build relationships and work as a team are especially important as the maritime community is essentially a relationship-ˇbased industry with a global outreach and a cosmopolitan outlook.

11. The willingness to learn is another important quality. Whether you have some maritime knowledge or not, a key quality employers are looking out for is one’s natural curiosity and willingness to pick up new skills, make new contacts and get your hands dirty. This is an industry where decisions have to be made on the go, good judgement is an important as decisive action, and quick reflexes are important.

12. Finally, one needs to have the “go-getter” and “can do“ attitude. The hungrier you are, the better. This is a highly competitive industry and you need to demonstrate that you can seize the opportunities that come your way. This means you need to have a keen nose to the market, a good sense of what’s happening around you, and the nimbleness to respond to changing market conditions.

13. Getting yourself a place at today’s session to equip yourself before stepping into the workforce is just a start. In the days ahead, it is up to you how you leverage on the knowledge and connections made to seek out your ideal career.

14. At this point, I would like to thank our participating companies – Anglo-Eastern Shipmanagement (Singapore), Aries Shipbroking (Asia), BW Group, Jurong Port, Klaveness Asia, NYK Group, Pacific International Lines, PSA Corporation and The China Navigation Company – for taking time to share with our young people at this workshop.

15. There is always more that we can do to profile the many opportunities in Maritime Singapore, and we hope that you will continue to partner us in our outreach efforts, so we can attract and build the next generation of maritime manpower.

16. In closing, I trust that this afternoon’s programme will give our students a good head start in connecting with the many opportunities across our vibrant port, shipping, maritime services, as well as offshore and marine engineering clusters.

17. Thank you.