Job transformation, bonuses and ASEAN affiliations are part of the plan to attract S’poreans to the maritime sector

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SINGAPORE – Attempts are underway to transform jobs in the maritime sector to allow more Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) to take them on, as the current pool of qualified local talent with extensive maritime experience is small.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said on Friday (April 8) that the initiative is part of a plan to create at least 1,000 good jobs for local people by 2025, citing the example of technical superintendents who normally oversee safety and efficiency monitor ship operations.

The role traditionally requires years of experience at sea, but a reorganization and the use of technology to accelerate training could allow more locals to be employed in such a role, he said.

Businesses that believe they have roles that can be similarly redesigned can contact the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Maritime Foundation.

Speaking at the Maritime Manpower Forum during Singapore Maritime Week, Mr. Chee said Singapore aspires to be a regional center for maritime education and training and stressed the importance of the country’s ports being open to ideas and manpower from abroad stay.

The plan, which is still being worked out, is to attract seafarers from the region to courses offered by unions and universities to advance their careers in Singapore.

Those who don’t stay will form an alumni network with people they knew here, Mr. Chee said. Local workers are also sent abroad for development.

He said there will also be a greater focus on Southeast Asia in developing local workers, with MPA increasing its co-funding support for workers posted to ASEAN countries by 20 percent compared to other locations.

“In a global business like shipping, our local talent needs to be internationally recognized to take on leadership roles,” said Mr. Chee

“We are committed to building a pipeline of local talent who have a good understanding of Southeast Asia and can build strong professional networks with their overseas partners.”

The industry has tried to increase its attractiveness to workers as not many locals, especially the young ones, know much about the sector despite it being vital to Singapore’s economy.

Authorities have tried to make pay more competitive by offering sign-up bonuses and incentive payments to support seafarers’ incomes when they are not sailing.

Sailors earn up to $50,000 when they meet important career milestones through the Sail Milestone Achievement Program.

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