The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore has unveiled new initiatives in a move to encourage locals to take up seafaring.
The MPA has set up the Sectoral Tripartite Committee for Transport (Sea) with the aim of getting at least 1,200 Singaporeans to man ships or take on shore-based roles by 2020.
The funds will come from the SGD115 million (USD82 million) Maritime Cluster Fund – Manpower Development (MCF-MD) and National SkillsFuture Budget.
In addition, a new nationwide initiative, the Maritime Singapore Connect, will inform Singaporeans about job and training opportunities in the maritime sector. The MPA will invest SGD4 million to create the portal over the next four years.
These were announced by Singapore’s deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean at the Singapore Shipping Association’s 30th anniversary dinner on 25 September.
Teo said, “We have exciting plans to ensure that Singapore can stay ahead of this competition. For example, we are investing significantly to grow our port capacity ahead of demand by developing a new mega terminal at Tuas. We are also continually sharpening our maritime policies and schemes to meet the evolving needs of the industry.”
For now, the committee is focused on seafaring and port operations. It would roll out similar schemes for ship owning, ship management, and ship agency in due course.
In drawing up the initiatives, the committee focused on career progression pathways; developing maritime talents through structured training programmes; and encouraging skills upgrading.
MPA chief executive Andrew Tan said, “MPA is committed to working closely with our industry stakeholders, associations, unions, and other government agencies to attract more Singaporeans into both the seafaring and shore-based sectors. This local core will support the growth of Singapore not only as a premier global hub port, but also a leading international maritime centre.”
Like many developed countries, Singapore finds it challenging to get locals to take up seafaring, which is perceived as a blue-collar job with long periods at sea.
The MPA has also committed SGD4 million over the next three years to subsidise three programmes that will cover training costs and offer study awards to Singaporean seafarers.
Firstly, under the Cadet Allowance Reimbursement programme, the MPA will reimburse companies up to half the monthly allowance that they pay Singaporean cadets undergoing the certificates of competencies (CoCs) training.
The second is the Achievement Award programme, which will offer a monetary award of up to SGD2,000 to candidates who complete shipboard training to become junior deck and engineering officers.
The third programme, the Up-skill Allowance Scheme, seeks to encourage Singaporean junior seafarers to upgrade their skills. The scheme enables employers to offer junior seafaring officers a training allowance of up to SGD6,000 while they pursue full-time CoC 2/1 programmes that would qualify them for senior shipboard positions.