Singapore Strengthens Maritime Workforce


The Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) is providing S$1.2 million (USD$852,000) to local shipping companies to help encourage the development of training berths for up to 240 for Singaporean seafaring cadets in the Tripartite Nautical Training Award and Tripartite Engineering Training Award Programmes (TNTA & TETA).

The funding will advance the Singaporean Maritime sector through a bigger pool of qualified maritime talents and will be contributed over a period of two years to companies with collective agreements (CA) with SMOU.

Shipping companies taking on TNTA/TETA cadets can receive a S$5,000 ($3,550) contribution to offset the cost of having to provide training berths for developing fully-fledged officers.

Mary Liew, SSMOU General Secretary, said: “Faced with the prolonged volatile economic situation, shipping companies may naturally take cost-saving measures such as cutting down on training.

“We are trying to reduce that as we need qualified seafarers to maintain a strong Singaporean core. This is why SMOU is constantly looking for ways to help encourage shipping companies to provide these critical training berths to our Singaporean TNTA/TETA cadets.”

In November 2016, the Union set aside S$300,000 ($213,000) in the form of 6,000 subsidised hotel rooms for the next two years to lighten the shipping companies’ financial load by introducing a Seafarers’ Accommodation Scheme (SAS, 海员住宿计划).

This is aimed at providing quality lodging at subsidised rates for the seafaring officers.

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Minister for Education, Higher Education and Skills (pictured), announced the funding today (February 2, 2017) at a meeting focusing on Singapore's initiatives.

Kung said: “[At the] beginning of last year [February 2016] when the shipping companies started to feel the pressure from the low freight rates, SMOU did their part as a union to help the members as well as the shipping companies by pro-actively contributing to the shipping companies some $1.5million [$1.06 million] so that the members can continue to have shipboard training and welfare despite the economic situation.”

The latest contribution takes SMOU funding to a total of S$3 million ($2.13 million) and almost 300 Singaporean cadets have since been trained.

TNTA and TETA are tripartite initiatives that started in 2010 and 2016 to train Singaporeans who want to take on a career change to become Nautical Officers or Marine Engineers working on-board commercial ships.

Both TNTA and TETA initiatives have been well-received by more than 20 shipping employers who offer training berths and employment opportunities to cadets.

Singapore’s maritime industry contributes to 7% of Singapore’s GDP and has more than 5,000 maritime establishments employing over 170,000 people. 

In December last year, the Singapore Organisation of Seamen declared that it would provide $3 million in the next two years to help shipping companies reduce operating expenses as they navigate the turbulent world economy.

Image: Minister Ong with Tripartite Engineering Training Award cadets

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