Speech by Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore, at the 5th Graduation Ceremony for Certificate of Competency (Special Limit) Programme

26 April 2018

Captain M Segar, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA),

Ms Vicky Wong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i),

Captain Mohamad Salleh, Director, Singapore Maritime Academy,

Distinguished Guests and Graduating Cadets,

Good afternoon.

1. I am pleased to join this year’s graduation ceremony for 84 participants of the Certificate of Competency (Special Limit) Programme.

Skills development in the industry

2. The training journey for the maritime sector had its beginnings in 2011. It started out as the Deck Officer Special Limit (DOSL) training programme, a partnership between MPA, e2i and the then Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

3. Over the years, the programme was reviewed, modified and enhanced to meet the evolving needs of the industry. This included instituting a clear career progression pathway for the officers and launching of new initiatives. In 2012, MPA worked with SMA and the industry to implement the CoC Class 5 Marine Engineer Officer Special Limit programme. Subsequently, MPA worked with e2i and the then-WDA to launch the CoC Class 4 Special Limit programmes for Master and Chief Engineers in 2016.

4.  The training environment in the Maritime industry is a good illustration of the SkillsFuture movement. We work on creating a culture of lifelong learning, which is supported by a range of quality training programmes, to build a workforce that not only remains relevant for the challenges of today but is also nimble enough to meet demands of the future economy.

Talent is key to the industry’s success

5. Earlier this year, MPA has launched the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) which identified talent as one of the three key pillars for the industry’s success. Through the ITM, MPA projected that more than 5,000 new jobs would be created by the year 2025, with the majority being PMET positions.

6. One SkillsFuture initiative that would help pave the way for those keen to enter the industry, is the Skills Framework for Sea Transport that was launched last year. It was developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and MPA, together with employers, industry associations, education and training providers and unions. The Skills Framework provides a good overview of sector trends, the career progression pathways and the required skills for 48 different jobs within the Sea Transport sector. Individuals can gain greater insights about the job roles they are interested in and the potential career pathways. They can also understand more about the critical and emerging skills and competencies required, such as ‘Ship Cyber Security’, ‘Navigation Watch, and ‘Ship Energy Efficiency’, and the relevant training programmes available.

7. To give fresh graduates a head start in the Maritime sector, SSG introduced the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programmes (ELP) in 2016, for job roles such as Port Operations Officer, Seafaring Deck Officer, and Seafaring Marine Engineer.  A total of 60 trainees have participated in these ELPs thus far. 

8. We will continue to develop new maritime initiatives to help our seafarers achieve their potential and to meet the needs of the industry. Currently, SSG, MPA and Singapore Polytechnic are working together to developing a new ELP for CoC (Special Limit) officers who have attained their Class 5 certification. This is part of our commitment in collaborating with key industry partners and relevant agencies to support and nurture a sustainable pipeline of skilled talent in the sector. More details on the new ELP will be shared soon. 

Embarking on a Seafaring Career

9. Now, let me congratulate the 44 graduating cadets who have completed their course with the Singapore Maritime Academy and are preparing to embark on their careers in seafaring. In addition, we have 10 Deck Officers and 8 Marine Engineers who have completed the CoC Class 5 (Special Limit) programme.

10. One of these graduates is Hidrir bin Abdul Hamid. Prior to joining the programme, Hidrir worked in different jobs across many industries from food and beverages, to logistics and even to security. In 2014, he worked for a ship handling company, which opened his eyes to the maritime industry. His interest was piqued when he witnessed the vessel crew conducting their operations and this spurred him to sign up for the Deck Officer (Special Limit) training programme. He had found his anchor in the maritime industry. Hidrir remained committed and sacrificed time and effort to pass the examinations. He will be attaining his CoC today as a qualified Chief Mate.

11. We would also like to highlight the achievements of Choo Bin Kai. While studying in ITE, his father contracted an illness and passed away, which eventually led him to lose focus in his studies. Nevertheless he was determined to make his mother proud and sought her blessing to join the maritime industry after completing National Service. His mother was naturally apprehensive of his decision to join the Marine Engineer (Special Limit) training programme, as this meant he would be away from home. However, Bin Kai managed to allay her concerns and convince her that the Special Limit training programme would allow him to sail close to home with relatively short voyages. His love for the sea has turned into a profession, as he will receive his CoC as a qualified 2nd Engineer today.

12. Another graduate who is worthy of mention is Anthony Francis Xavier s/o Pillai. Despite working in the electrical and electronics industry for 15 years, Anthony Francis was keen to embark on a fresh career path. Coincidentally, he met a former Special Limit graduate at a career fair who shared with him about the Marine Engineer (Special Limit) training programme. Although he was enticed by the prospects of working in the maritime industry, he remained uncertain of his ability to undergo the intensive training programme and keep up with his younger batch mates. Nevertheless, with adequate guidance from the lecturers at SMA and the desire to prove that age was no barrier to achieving his goals, Anthony Francis, at 47 years of age, will be one of the officers receiving the coveted epaulettes today.
Skilling Up for Career Progression

13. Finally, let me congratulate the CoC Class 4 Master and Chief Engineer (Special Limit) graduates. This is the second batch of graduates comprising 7 Master Engineers and 15 Chief Engineers. These graduates have also received the SkillsFuture Study Award, in recognition for their efforts to deepen their expertise in the Maritime seafaring field.

14. I am also pleased to share with you that we have our first lady Chief Engineer Special Limit, Elvie Nilia Sagr, amongst us. Elvie started her seafaring journey in 2013 when she joined the Marine Engineer (Special Limit) training programme. She was a motivated student who excelled in her training. Her strong passion and determination earned the respect of her peers in her company, and she was subsequently nominated by her employer to undergo the Chief Engineer (Special Limit) training programme.   Let us applaud her achievements as a qualified Chief Engineer.


15. My heartiest congratulations to all of you who have worked hard. You have done your family and friends proud. You will become a critical part of our Singapore manpower core in the maritime sector. And I wish you all the best in your journey towards fulfilling your career aspirations.

16. I want to take the opportunity to also thank MPA for their invaluable partnership and commend them for recognising the importance of lifelong learning.

17. Lastly, Let me also express my appreciation to our partners e2i, SMA, the unions and sponsoring companies for their continued partnership commitment in the success of the CoC (Special Limit) and various SkillsFuture initiatives. Thank you all.