Maritime jobs are often seen as unglamorous and involving long periods at sea - but that is a perception the head of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is working "very hard" to change.
Speaking at the launch of the ninth Singapore Maritime Week yesterday, chief executive Andrew Tan said that while the sector has been growing in tandem with increased global trade, not enough Singaporeans are aware that there are many "high-value, shore-based" jobs for the taking.
"We don't have many Singaporeans in this sector but we are trying to attract more," he said.
"The main focus we want to look at this year and in future years is manpower development."
The MPA could not provide figures on the number of vacancies in the sector.
However, in February, the Government and agencies representing maritime workers and employers pumped in $22 million to cover the costs of training 400 Singaporean maritime officers over five years.
The public outreach drive is already underway. While Maritime Week was launched yesterday by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew at VivoCity, the MPA said that exhibitions held there, at Jurong Point and Parkway Parade over the past week have attracted more than 100,000 visitors.
The exhibitions highlight 15 different occupations across the sector, including port inspector, shipping agent, charterer, planner and banker.
To attract more talent, there are now more training grants and scholarships available, while the MPA has been organising activities and launching maritime clubs in schools.
The 29 Maritime Week events organised by MPA and industry players include the launch of Singapore's first maritime heritage trail on Friday. It will feature guided tours of historic areas like Fort Canning Hill, Clifford Pier and Boat Quay.
"Not many people know we have a long maritime history," said Mr Tan.
"We are part of a trading network that existed even before Raffles' founding of Singapore. It's an exciting story to be told."
This article was published on April 7 in The Straits Times.
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