Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), launched the Energy and Chemicals (E&C) Industry Transformation Map (ITM) last Saturday at the 10th edition of the Singapore Chemical Industry Experience (CHEMEX).
At the event organised by the Singapore Chemical Industry Council (SCIC) to raise awareness of career opportunities in the energy and chemicals industry amongst tertiary students, Minister Lim said: "The E&C ITM encompasses key strategies in innovation, productivity as well as jobs and skills development. Through the efforts of the ITM, we aim for our E&C industry to achieve a manufacturing value-added of S$12.7 billion and create 1,400 new good jobs by 2025."
To prepare Singapore to capitalise on global trends and opportunities in the industry, the ITM has identified a two-pronged strategy, focused on innovation, to ensure long-term competitiveness and sustainable growth – firstly, to transform its existing base of chemicals manufacturing through the adoption of innovative technologies and secondly, to diversify into new growth markets and develop new innovation capabilities to capture growth opportunities.
The ITM will also have a strong emphasis on growing a pipeline of local talent, and foster strong collaborations with industry associations to better support the industry.
Equipping the Singaporean workforce with the necessary skills
Minister Lim said: "Talent remains at the heart of our strategies. We will continue to equip Singaporeans with the necessary skills to stay relevant and benefit from the growth opportunities. As part of the ITM, we have launched the Skills Framework for the E&C industry."
Developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) with inputs from industry stakeholders such as employers, industry associations, and unions, the Skills Framework provides valuable information about career pathways, occupations and job roles for this industry.
Providing key information about the industry, the framework covers six career tracks, involving 53 job roles in the sector, and identifies 95 technical skills and competencies required across the different job roles, with the relevant training programmes to acquire them. The six tracks are production and process engineering; health, safety and environment; engineering and maintenance; quality assurance and quality control; technical service, application and product development; and research and development.
To support industry trends such as digitalisation and innovation, the framework also includes emerging skills and competencies such as internet of things management, robotic and automation technology application, and applied research and development.
Organisations can make use of the Skills Framework to develop competency and training roadmaps to help employees better understand their career progression and prepare for desired job roles. Line managers will also be able to use the framework to benchmark and identify skills gaps of employees, and assess their competency levels.
To attract fresh polytechnic and ITE graduates into the E&C industry, SSG also launched four SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes (ELP) for job roles such as process technicians and laboratory analysts. Through the ELPs in the E&C industry, over 65 Polytechnic and ITE graduates were placed in more than 20 companies and another two ELPs catering for ITE graduates will be rolled out for the sector in 2018.
At the same time, under WSG’s Adapt and Grow initiative, there are several Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) to help mid-career PMETs transit into different job roles and new careers within the E&C industry. These programmes include the PCPs for chemicals manufacturing, associate researcher (consumer chemicals), manufacturing associate, manufacturing professional and technical sales engineer/manager.
Driving the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies
Minister Lim said: "The first prong of our innovation efforts is drive the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies among our E&C industry."
The minister added that by 2020, the ITM targets to have 20 E&C plants, including all refineries and crackers, adopt advanced manufacturing technologies. This will provide a strong foundation for the effort to be scaled to the rest of the industry. Following which, Singapore will also be focusing on systems level digitalisation efforts across companies to improve logistics and utilities management.
Diversifying into growth markets and developing innovation capabilities
"The second prong is to focus on building capabilities such as applied research or novel platform strategies to accelerate innovation and shorten the go-to-market process. This will help our companies better tailor our products and solutions to customers and capture growth in the region." Minister Lim revealed.
For example, EDB and A*STAR has embarked on a joint technology road mapping exercise to identify scientific and technological needs and gaps of companies, and then invest in developing them so as to support and foster companies’ innovation. The ITM targets 20 new or expanded application development centres by 2025, with an increase of S$55 million in business expenditure on research and development.
Partnering with trade associations and chambers
Taking a broader industry perspective, the Government will foster closer collaborations with Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) to further the development of the industry. For instance, SCIC and EDB co-chairs the Chemical Industry Manpower Advisory Committee (CHIMAC) which looks into present and future manpower issues related to the industry such has labour supply, training and hiring practices. Government agencies together with Association of Process Industries (ASPRI) and SCIC have also formed the Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Management Committee to look into improving the overall productivity of the PCM sector, a key supporting sector of the Energy & Chemicals industry.
Photo and inofgraphic / Singapore Economic Development Board