Opening Address by Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Trade & Industry and Ministry of Education, at Republic Polytechnic Tech Fest 2015 on Monday, 12 October 2015 at 1005 hours at Republic Polytechnic
Mr Yeo Li Pheow, Principal and CEO of Republic Polytechnic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my honour to join you this morning at Tech Fest 2015. This year’s theme, “Empowering Supply Chains”, highlights the importance that business leaders place on supply chains to deliver a competitive advantage. Tech Fest therefore serves as a platform for companies to share best practices over the next three days, and understand how technology and innovation can further drive productivity in this very important sector.
2. This forum will allow participants to explore and discover how technologies and innovations can be used to empower supply chains, particularly in three verticals: Transport and Storage; Hospitality and Food Services; and Distribution and Retail. On this note, I am looking forward to DHL’s sharing on the Logistics Trend Radar later on.
Importance of Logistics and Supply Chain Sector
3. The Transportation and Storage industry plays an important role in Singapore’s economy, contributing about 7% of GDP in 2014 and employing over 188,000 workers. Today, Singapore is a leading logistics hub for both air and sea cargo, with 20 of the top 25 global logistics players maintaining operations in Singapore. Most of them have also set up regional or global headquarters functions here.
4. Logistics has also been identified as a Future Growth Cluster for Singapore’s economic development. The Government will continue to grow this sector by enhancing our logistics infrastructure so that our companies are well-positioned to seize growth opportunities in the sector. Recent projects include the expansion of Changi Airport and the establishment of Tuas seaport, both of which will form the core of next-generation logistics infrastructure to support Singapore’s growth and transformation, at the same time, to provide good jobs for Singaporeans. As a key enabler for many industries, a vibrant logistics sector will help enhance Singapore's competitiveness in manufacturing. In addition, improvements in the logistics sector will also drive productivity in the services sectors.
Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management
5. To this end, I am pleased to note that besides training graduates to become supply chain specialists, Republic Polytechnic also operates a Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management (COI-SCM), which is jointly funded by SPRING Singapore and the Economic Development Board (EDB). The Centre aims to be a solutions thought leader helping Singapore-based companies and industries deepen their supply chain expertise through innovations in processes and technology. This will not only enhance scalability, it will also add to their growth.
6. Since it started operations in 2012, the Centre has initiated more than 180 projects with Singapore-based companies across various industries such as, logistics, lifestyle services, food manufacturing and distribution, biomedical, manufacturing, and clean-tech.
Examples of Projects
7. Let me share with you one example of how the industry has benefited from its collaboration with COI-SCM at RP. Poli Medical Company, a local health and food supplement manufacturer, was facing challenges in synchronizing the timing and quantity of procurement of raw materials so that manufacturing schedule and quantity could be met. Instead of conducting manual quantity and lead time calculations, Poli Medical Company used a tool developed by COI-SCM to reduce their material resource planning time by 50%. This led to increased inventory availability of 20%, and minimized the inventory of raw materials. There are many other examples of how companies in Singapore have derived higher productivity, achieved lower operating costs by enhancing their supply chain management capabilities. I encourage companies to continue working closely with agencies and training institutions to do more in this area.
Opening of Supply Chain Lab
8. As part of its efforts to equip students with deep industry-relevant skills, RP will be launching its Supply Chain Lab today. We applaud this move and I am delighted to be part of this occasion. The new purpose-built lab will provide a realistic applied-learning environment for students and educators of supply chain and logistics management. COI-SCM will also be using the new lab to develop innovative solutions for industry. In particular, SMEs can collaborate with COI-SCM to develop and test bed new solutions and technologies. This will not only improve their cost competitiveness, it will also create new value for their customers.
Earn and Learn Programme for Logistics
9. Alongside these positive industry developments, we will also grow the talent pipeline for the Logistics industry as part of our nationwide SkillsFuture effort. SkillsFuture aims to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to go beyond learning in school, to deepen their skills at the workplace, and to embrace lifelong learning.
10. A key feature of SkillsFuture is the Earn and Learn programme, which allows fresh Polytechnic and ITE graduates to be placed with an employer through structured on-the-job training and industry-relevant certification. Graduates on this programme can look forward to career progression based on skills and competencies acquired at the workplace.
11. On this note, I also want to thank the 15 companies that have come on board this Earn and Learn programme, and the 36 mentors who have also come on board to mentor the 39 participants.
12. Today, Republic Polytechnic will officially launch the Earn and Learn Programme for Logistics with 15 companies. Students on board the programme will study for a Specialist Diploma in Supply Chain Management offered by RP, while working at one of the participating companies. They will acquire industry-relevant skills such as managing supply chains and inventories, and devising plans to optimise transportation. Mentors from these companies will also receive specialised training to support workplace learning for our graduates. I hope more companies will come on board this effort to help groom future logistics professionals for the industry.
13. In conclusion, I hope that through Tech Fest, more companies will actively seek innovative solutions and leverage technology to increase their efficiency and productivity. Given the tight manpower situation, it is imperative that efficiency and productivity standards continue to be raised through a collective effort of sharing of best practices.
14. On this note, I wish everyone a very productive Tech Fest session and a wonderful week ahead. Thank you very much.