DPM Heng: S’pore can be resilient advanced manufacturing base
South-east Asia in good position as companies reconfigure supply chains, says DPM Heng
Singapore is committed to developing and growing cutting-edge capabilities, such as in robotics and 3D printing, to position itself as a more resilient manufacturing base in Asia, for the world.
Underscoring the country's aim to further industrial transformation and growth in the region, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday announced initiatives to boost its manufacturing sector.
These include a new training programme office called the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (Amta) that will plan ways to ensure the manufacturing workforce has emerging skills and knowledge.
Amta will be governed by a training council comprising institutes of higher learning, public agencies and unions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific conference, Mr Heng announced a partnership with the World Economic Forum for a global roll-out of the Singapore-developed Smart Industry Readiness Index (Siri).
These efforts aim to continue the upward momentum of the manufacturing sector, which grew about 3.5 per cent year on year in the first six months of this year. Manufacturing contributes about 20 per cent to Singapore's economy and employs around 472,000 workers.
The upcoming Jurong Innovation District, which has attracted $420 million in investments over the past year despite the pandemic, is "shaping up as the one-stop advanced manufacturing hub in Singapore", Mr Heng said.
"Singapore can also be a more digital and more resilient advanced manufacturing base in Asia, for the world."
As manufacturers rethink production and supply chains, there is a greater premium on resilience, he said, adding: "South-east Asia and Singapore are in a good position to be part of this reconfiguration of supply chains in the coming years."
Singapore is also strengthening its digital and maritime connectivity, and restoring air connectivity.
Mr Heng sketched out three ways Singapore will continue efforts to be a "Global-Asia node" for technology, innovation and enterprise.
The first is in the area of setting standards. The global expansion of Singapore's Siri, which identifies ways manufacturing companies can transform to meet future challenges, will create opportunities for the country and its international partners to learn from one another.
The second is in human capital development. Mr Heng held up collaborations like the Global Technology Innovation Village, which will be set up by the Asian Development Bank and Singapore Polytechnic to train regional government and business leaders in emerging tech areas such as artificial intelligence and 5G.
Third, Singapore has been working to strengthen international business links. Mr Heng cited the Germany Singapore Business Forum Connect, which aims to encourage links between Singapore firms and German companies with a presence in Asean.
"By working together and strengthening regional integration, South-east Asia can fulfil its potential as a regional manufacturing powerhouse," he said.
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Taking the next step in encouraging more women to join tech
Five years ago, gender diversity was not a high priority for the tech industry in Singapore.
This was the observation that Ms Nurul Jihadah Hussain had when she started The Codette Project, which aims to provide minority and Muslim women with awareness and access to the tech industry through collaborations, content, hackathons and workshops.
Today, said Ms Nurul, 33, more companies appear to have wised up to the fact that diversity and inclusion - not just in gender but other areas as well - in hiring is important. Both for their bottom line and because it is "the right thing to do", she added.
But, Ms Nurul told The New Paper: "More can be done to create encouraging spaces for women to be hired in tech. Companies should look at the data they have... find out at which points in the hiring cycle do women drop off and look to correct them.
"It is about building an inclusive and welcoming ecosystem and enabling people to learn and succeed on their own terms."
Yesterday, the SG Women In Tech movement commemorated its first anniversary via a webinar. The movement by the Infocomm Media Development Authority with industry, government and community partners was initiated to attract and develop women in tech.
Its highlights over the past year include bringing together more than 600 women in the workforce for networking and mentoring activities, as well as the launch of the inaugural SG 100 Women in Tech List to honour those with outstanding accomplishments and significant contributions in tech.
During the Action For Impact webinar, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann announced the expansion of the MentorConnect programme, a cross-company mentorship programme that was started last year by Dell Technologies.
The programme aims to guide and empower the development of women professionals in tech and promote best practices among participating companies from all industries.
This year, four more companies have come on board.
Senior personnel from various tech companies as well as DBS Bank chief executive Piyush Gupta discussed what can be improved.
Mr Gupta said: "As a general rule, half the talent in the world are women. If you are not actively making sure half your people are women, you are forsaking a massive talent base."
2,300 new training places in advanced manufacturing for job seekers
There will be 2,300 new training opportunities in advanced manufacturing to help job seekers enter this growth area.
This will help manufacturers adapt to the crisis and build the necessary capabilities to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) announced this yesterday in conjunction with this year's Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific event at the Singapore Expo & Max Atria.
About 500 of the training places are offered by leading companies in Industry 4.0 technology, such as Bosch, Nvidia, Omron, PBA Robotics and Siemens.
This initiative is under the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme, which is part of the national SGUnited Jobs and Skills package to upskill and reskill mid-career workers.
Industry 4.0 is about using automation and smart solutions to improve processes in manufacturing.
The programme helps participants get structured training and practical experience while working on real projects alongside mentors from the lead companies.
They can pick up skills in collaborative robotics, additive manufacturing, information technology and operational technology integration, and artificial intelligence.
These skills are deemed as emerging and necessary by industry leaders for advanced manufacturing, SSG said.
Firms can then hire from this ready pool of trained individuals to support their advanced manufacturing transformation efforts.
The train-and-place programmes will be progressively rolled out by next month.
The other 1,800 training and placement opportunities are under SGUnited skills programmes carried out by institutes of higher learning. They provide structured training that may include short attachments at companies.
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