Speech by Minister for Transport & Second Minister for Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat at Pacific International Lines (PIL)’s Launch of PIL Academy

07 Jun 2024Speeches
Mr Lars Kastrup, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines,
Mr Teo Siong Seng, Executive Chairman of Pacific International Lines,
Dr Victor Goh, Dean, PIL Academy,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     I am delighted to join you this afternoon to celebrate the launch of PIL Academy. 

2.     This new training facility marks a significant milestone not only for PIL, it is also an important step forward to achieve Maritime Singapore’s goal of developing a future-ready workforce.

Importance of maritime manpower 

3.     The maritime industry is key to international trade, with more than 80% of the world’s cargo transported by sea. If ships and their cargo form the backbone of the global economy, then our maritime professionals are its lifeblood. Without their expertise and dedication, no vessels could sail safely to and from our shores, and our port operations would come to a standstill. 

4.     Think about the recent Red Sea crisis, which prompted a substantial diversion of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. This redirection has caused "bunching" in multiple ports worldwide. Singapore has also experienced a notable surge in vessel arrivals, container volumes, and berthing demands since the beginning of 2024, with many vessels coming to Singapore as a hub for mitigating delays in other parts of their journeys. 

5.     The Ministry of Transport and MPA are collaborating closely with our tripartite partners - PSA, our shipping partners, industry associations, and our unions to enhance our port's capabilities and capacity. We will navigate through this challenging period together by deploying more manpower, optimizing port capacity, facilitating information exchange, and engaging in proactive planning with stakeholders.

6.     Singapore aims to be a global hub for maritime talent development, leveraging on our strong tripartite partnership between the government, industry and unions. As the global maritime industry embraces new challenges such as digitalisation and decarbonisation, Maritime Singapore must continue to upskill and reskill our workforce so that our workers can remain relevant and competitive.

PIL’s contributions to Maritime Singapore

7.     As Singapore’s home-grown container shipping line, PIL is a cornerstone of Singapore's maritime success story. Since its inception in 1967, PIL has played a pivotal role in shaping the maritime landscape of Singapore. Today, PIL is the 11th largest shipowner in the Singapore Registry of Ships, operating a fleet of 100 vessels from its Singapore office and employing almost 700 locals. 

8.     As a strong advocate for manpower capability development, PIL has worked closely with the Government on many initiatives over the years to empower and nurture local talent. This includes participation in programmes such as the MaritimeONE scholarships and internships, and MPA’s Global Internship Award. PIL also has in place a Management Associate Programme to grow and develop young talent with leadership potential.

9.     Besides actively grooming the next generation of maritime talent, PIL also recognises the importance of job transformation to enhance the value-add and attractiveness of maritime jobs. PIL places a strong focus on upskilling, career development and the international mobility of its employees, including ship-to-shore career progression. Some prefer to go out to sail when they are younger, but may want to be based on shore later on in their careers. So, this ship-to-shore career opportunity is important. 

a.     In 2023, PIL, together with PCL, conducted the Job Redesign Pilot led by the Singapore Maritime Foundation to enhance the attractiveness of two critical maritime jobs, the Technical Superintendent and Vessel Operator. 

b.     Based on the findings in this pilot, the Maritime Workforce Transformation Guidebook was launched in April 2023 to help companies transform the area of technical ship management in global shipping.

PIL Academy

10.    Today, PIL will be setting up PIL Academy to steer their efforts in manpower development to greater heights. With around 4,000 shore-based staff and another 4,000 seafarers, the PIL Academy will better prepare PIL’s employees for the drive towards digitalisation and decarbonisation, and equip its seafarers with the skills and knowledge to operate vessels safely, efficiently, and sustainably. 

a.     Together with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), local skills management software provider JobKred and UK-based professional body Maritime Training Academy, PIL will be entering a first-of-its-kind MOU to co-design and develop competency-based, stackable micro-credential learning modules for PIL Academy. This is a very practical and useful approach, as our maritime professionals will have to be away from office or home and sail out to sea. It can become very impractical if they are required to attend a continuous course. The stackable micro-credential learning modules is a practical way for our professionals to upskill themselves continuously, and for employers to recognise the credentials and achievements along the way.

b.     This structured approach to training and development will strongly signal the importance of continuous learning and adaptability to change. It will also help to attract and retain talent within PIL and in the maritime sector. We hope what PIL is doing can set as a good role model for other companies to also use this tripartite arrangement and stackable micro-credential learning modules to upgrade their employees.

c.     PIL is also working in collaboration with the PIL Centre for Maritime Efficiency to tap on the latest technologies in optimising vessel operations and enhancing energy efficiency.

11.    Efforts by maritime companies such as PIL in setting up the PIL Academy can bring many benefits to the wider maritime ecosystem. We will be happy to welcome PIL Academy to join our newly minted Maritime Energy Training Facility (METF). 

a.     We announced during the 2024 Singapore Maritime Week, the METF will comprise a network of training facilities to provide comprehensive training in maritime energy-related topics such as alternative fuels, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability in the maritime industry. These are all important areas that we want to work on if we want to decarbonize the maritime sector in accordance to the International Maritime Organisation’s goal of 2050. The best way to do this is to bring partners - the government, industry and unions - together. It will not be easy because some of these pilots and trials may fail. However, we will learn from this process, discover new solutions and be better prepared for the future.

b.     We will continue to work closely with PIL and other industry and union partners to provide world-class training, upskilling, and reskilling opportunities for our workers, because this transformation journey must involve our workers who are the lifeblood of the industry. 


12.    As the Chinese proverb goes “十年树木,百年树人”, “It takes ten years to grow trees, but a hundred years to cultivate people”. PIL Academy will build on the good work that PIL has done in maritime development, and equip the next generation of maritime professionals with the expertise and skills necessary to navigate the challenges of our dynamic maritime industry. 

13.    I would like to conclude by extending my heartiest congratulations to PIL on the launch of the PIL Academy! 

14.    Thank you.


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