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Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the TNTA Cohorts 15 Pre-Sea Graduation and 16 Investiture Ceremony

Speech by SMS Chee Hong Tat at the TNTA Cohorts 15 Pre-Sea Graduation and 16 Investiture Ceremony

Ms Mary Liew, NTUC President & General Secretary of Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), 
Mr Rahim Jaffar, President,
Capt Robin Foo, Immediate Past President,
Mr Thomas Tay, Emeritus General Secretary,
Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA) cadets and families,
Brothers and Sisters from the Union,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. 


1.  It is my pleasure to join you on this happy occasion. Let me start by extending my heartfelt congratulations to the 17 graduating cadets from the 15th cohort of the Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA). You have worked hard and persevered to reach this milestone. Congratulations to all of you! 

2. To the 13 new cadets from the 16th cohort who are embarking on their new voyage, congratulations on qualifying and I wish you all the best in the journey ahead.  

Boundless Opportunities in the Maritime Sector

3. There is no better place than in Singapore to join the maritime sector. Our island is strategically located in the heart of Asia with well-established infrastructure and up-to-date technology that gives us our status of an international maritime centre and premier global hub port. 

4. Singapore has a dynamic and thriving maritime sector which makes up seven per cent of the nation’s GDP and employs over 170,000 workers in more than 5,000 maritime organisations and businesses. It is a vibrant ecosystem that is home to 140 international shipping groups, providing abundant opportunities for youths like you. 

5. The Tripartite Nautical and Engineering Training Award (TNTA & TETA) programmes are two cadet training programmes that offer exciting opportunities to Singaporeans who wish to build a career in the maritime sector. Through these programmes, budding seafarers will be able to deepen their knowledge and skills in the sector, and be offered career progression opportunities to further develop their careers.

Tripartism Key to Industry Transformation and Talent Development 

6. The TNTA and TETA programmes also stand out due to the strong tripartite support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), shipping companies, Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) and Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI). Our tripartite partners are committed and invested in the programmes in the hopes of building a strong pool of local talent in the maritime sector.

7. Earlier this year, SSG, MPA and SMOU renewed the funding support for both the TNTA and TETA programmes. The total funding of $12.6 million over three years aims to groom a pool of 200 Singaporeans to become deck and marine engineer officers. 

8. I am happy to know that, to date, the TNTA programme has seen over 300 Singaporean cadets being allocated training placements, training allowances and long-term careers. One of them is 29-year-old Cadet Hidrir Bin Abdul Hamid, one of the graduating cadets from the 15th Cohort, who exemplifies lifelong learning and desirable qualities like adaptability and resilience which we look for in our youths. 

9. Cadet Hidrir obtained his Nitec in Electrical Technology and worked in different jobs across many industries from food to security. In 2014, he decided to work for a ship handling company, where he witnessed the vessel crew conducting their operations. He developed an interest in this line of work and enrolled for the Special Limits Deck Officer Programme. He has successfully graduated and has started sailing with Sinaju Tankers in our Singapore Harbour. He was then inspired to enrol for the TNTA programme, so that he could operate larger commercial ships and command higher wages. Having completed the TNTA programme, Cadet Hidrir who is now working for Bernhard Schulte is able to sail beyond Singapore waters, operate large commercial ships and is expected to command a salary of up to US$7000 when he successfully becomes a ship captain.  This is a good example of having a better pay through better skills.

10. Like all jobs, a seafaring career comes with its set of challenges. I would like to encourage our cadets to learn from experience and keep trying even when the seas are rough and the waves are strong. With determination and grit, you can reach your destination.  Do not be afraid of setbacks and challenges, or even to experience some failure along the way.  These are part and parcel of the overall learning to build stronger capabilities and resilience.    

11. A seafaring career will open up opportunities that are unique and do not come by easily. You will get to work with a multi-national crew, be exposed to different cultures, and travel the oceans while you learn on the job and build up your seafaring knowledge and skills. When you have decided to come ashore, there are plenty of shore-based opportunities available, and your expertise accumulated at sea will be highly sought after. It will be a challenging yet rewarding career. 

Developing Future Ready Skills

12. Many exciting prospects lie ahead for Singapore’s maritime sector. As the maritime sector continues to transform, we will see more and more technologically advanced ships ply our oceans. Our seafarers will therefore need to be future-ready so as to operate these next generation ships. 

13. The Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched earlier this year to develop future skills needed and good career pathways for all in the maritime sector. It looks to increase the sector’s value by $4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 good jobs by 2025. 

14. To further develop our workers, the tripartite partners signed an MOU during the Singapore Maritime Week in April this year. The collaboration focused on identifying new competencies and skills required to operate technologically advanced ships, enhancing the current training syllabus and developing Singapore as a maritime training hub. Our young cadets can be sure that as they continue to sail and progress, there will be opportunities to gain new competencies and skills of the future.


15. Dear Cadets, I hope the time spent in TNTA has taught you much and will bring back many fond memories. You are now well equipped to pursue your seafaring goals and I wish you all the best in your journey.  As you celebrate your achievements this evening, please remember to show your appreciation to your trainers and your loved ones, for supporting you and helping you to reach this milestone in your career.  And when you have the opportunity in the future, give back to society and help others to succeed too.  

16. I also want to thank our partners, SMOU, WMI and the shipping companies for their partnership and commitment in grooming our next generation of seafarers. By working together, I am confident we can successfully transform our economy to benefit the industry and our workers. 

Thank you.

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