Singapore appears set to cement its position as a top aviation and maritime hub and lead the way in the development, testing and implementation of new technologies.

Against the backdrop of an international airport that has consistently been voted the best in the world by international travellers and a seaport that’s among the planet’s busiest (it is in fact the busiest by transshipment volume), the Government of Singapore will launch an Aviation Transformation Programme and a Maritime Transformation Programme this year, which will help create up to 6,000 new high-skilled employment opportunities and a manufacturing value-add of S$8.5 billion by 2025.

These initiatives were announced by Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in March and the government is expected to provide S$500 million in support of these, with more funding anticipated from industry players.

In line with this is the Air Industry Transformation Map, launched in January 2018, which targets a manufacturing value-add of S$4 billion and the creation of 1,000 new jobs by 2020.

The map will pursue operational excellence, drive innovation in new technologies, and equip Singaporeans with relevant industry skills.

One way the ITM will improve productivity is through helping Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing, which designs and develops customised factory automation and material handling equipment, to invest in advanced automation equipment, software and engineering capabilities that will upgrade production lines for next-generation aircraft components.

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The aerospace industry is a key sector of growth for the Singapore economy. With an annual growth averaging 7 per cent in the past two decades, the industry achieved a value-add of S$3.35 billion in 2016. The industry employed 21,000 workers that year, with one in five jobs filled by non-citizens.

With aerospace companies banking on advanced manufacturing technologies to enhance their operations and increase productivity, along with the emergence of new market segments such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), existing jobs in the industry are set to evolve, with opportunities for new, high-skilled jobs in robotics engineering, data science and 3D printing.

The city-state remains the leader in the Asia-Pacific as a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) centre, providing 10 per cent of the world’s aerospace industry’s output for that segment.

Image Source: Keppel Shipyard

Meanwhile, the maritime industry also received a boost in January with the unveiling of the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM). The map sets out to grow the industry’s value-add by S$4.5 billion and create 5,000 skilled jobs by 2025.

As an indication of the commitment of stakeholders, five Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between Singapore’s Marine Port Authority and industry partners to boost innovation and productivity, while developing human capital.

The ITM will consolidate and strengthen Singapore’s position as an international maritime centre with the aim of establishing it as the global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation and talent, said Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

The Maritime Transformation Programme will also be supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority to co-fund the development of technologies that would be in high demand in the industry. Industry partners are also expected to match the funding.

“With its focus on automating and digitalising port and shipping operations, and enhancing maritime safety and security, the MTP will be pivotal in driving industry transformation – making our port smarter and safer, and our international maritime centre more competitive,” Dr Lam told Channel NewsAsia.

Some 170,000 people are employed in the maritime industry, which contributed to seven per cent of Singapore’s economy last year.

These government initiatives, along with Singapore’s position as a global leader in many aspects of the seaport and airport sectors, continues to put the island-republic in good stead to lead these industries into the future.