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Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Electronics Industry Day

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Electronics Industry Day

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. A very good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you for the Electronics Industry Day 2021.

2. This flagship event, organised by the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) and supported by JTC, is an important platform for our industry stakeholders, electronics companies and students to come together and interact. We are holding this virtually for the first time, but we hope that the activities lined up such as the career fair, exhibitions and industry talks, will give you a better sense of the exciting career and internship options available in the electronics sector. 

3. At the same time, the SSIA is championing a Semiconductor Communication Campaign with EDB. You may visit their new Instagram page @ssiasemiconductor, to learn about the vital role that chips play at the technology forefront, while showcasing the exciting developments and opportunities in the industry.

Electronics industry is key to the manufacturing sector and an important economic pillar for Singapore 

4. In electronics, the change is extremely fast-paced. It has been so in the past and will continue to be so.  

a. In my younger days, we had TVs that used cathode-ray technologies. They came as big clunky boxes and some of them were assembled in Singapore during our early days. Today, most of our TVs are flat-screens with LCD and LED technologies. And we see such screens not only in TVs, but also in our laptops, tablets, and phones.

b. As another example, our cars today are also very different from the past and are full of electronics. An Audi spokesperson said a few years back that a car today includes as many as “8,000 active semiconductors in up to 100 interconnected control units”. More intriguingly, “every single one of them has more computing power than the first moon rocket”. 

5. Digitalisation and expanding consumer demand for electronics will drive continued change in the years ahead. Opportunities are boundless, with possibilities we cannot yet imagine. Singapore must therefore have a place in Electronics, so that Singaporeans can benefit from and contribute to this sector.  

a. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Over the years, we built a sector with strong capabilities in niche skills and products.

i. The Electronics sector is Singapore’s biggest manufacturing sub-sector, employing around 70,500 workers and contributing 39% of manufacturing GDP. 

ii. Our efforts to grow the industry has allowed Singapore to become a key node in the global supply chain for electronic goods ranging from semiconductors and memory products, to tiny integrated systems known as Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS).

iii. These technologies are used to make everyday things. Seagate portable hard-disks, for instance, might be a product that you have heard or are even using. Today, we actually have Seagate plants in Singapore, manufacturing a lion’s share of the global demand for portable hard disks.  

b. The world’s largest and most cutting-edge electronics companies have continued to invest in Singapore. Companies like STMicroelectronics, Infineon and Micron are notable examples that have continued to grow their presence and conduct some of their most advanced R&D in Singapore. 

i. In October last year, STMicroelectronics announced their collaboration with A*STAR and Japanese tool vendor ULVAC to setup a first of its kind “Lab-in-Fab” R&D line to boost innovation and accelerate development of new products for industry customers.

ii. Last month, Infineon announced their decision to make Singapore its global AI innovation hub by 2023. In doing so, Infineon will build new smart solutions for its operations in Singapore and upskill the Singapore workforce. 

c. While the disruptions brought about by COVID-19 have threatened to reconfigure global supply chains, they have also accelerated the digitalisation efforts and technology adoption for businesses. 

i. For example, GlobalFoundries adopted Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies to facilitate remote working across teams. 

ii. Another company, Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company, incorporated Automated Guided Vehicles in their manufacturing line to cope with a shortage of workforce.

6. Notwithstanding COVID-19, the Electronics sector had remained resilient. Amid economic headwinds, the sector continues to grow and transform, becoming more automated, data-driven, and environmentally sustainable.

a. In fact, the Electronics sector grew 8.2% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020. 

b. Moreover, investments in the sector have been robust. In 2020, we recorded $6.5 billion in Fixed Assets Investment (FAI) and $532 million of Total Business Expenditure (TBE) in the Electronics sector. About 1,700 jobs will be created when these projects are fully realized over the next 3 to 5 years. 

c. Even now, we have good job opportunities in Electronics:

i. Currently, there are more than 2800 jobs and training opportunities offered by over 130 electronic companies.   These span across the full value chain from technical and innovation engineers, to operations and global supply chain roles.

ii. In addition, the monthly salaries for manufacturing engineers in the sector range from $1,800 to $3,225, with a median of $2,575, while electronics or mechanical engineers would typically receive higher wages between $4,500 and $6,000. 

Important Role of Trade Associations 

7. Trade associations like SSIA play a vital role in partnering our electronics companies, academia, and Government agencies, to introduce new initiatives that make the Electronics sector an attractive environment to work in. 

8. To groom and grow globally competitive companies in Singapore, TACs help to strengthen the local ecosystem by facilitating collaborations between MNCs and SMEs. Moreover, TACs like SSIA support companies’ hiring needs by setting up an electronics job portal with the support from e2i, offering 895 positions and internships, close to 2,000 vacancies from 58 companies in the sector.

9. To equip our students with the necessary skills and tap on the existing opportunities in the electronics sector, 

a. The Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) grooms the next generation of leaders and develops their core skills and competencies, allowing them to contribute to leading organisations in Singapore’s strategic sectors, including Electronics. 

b. SSIA partnered Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and veterans in the industry to launch different industry-relevant courses such as the Semiconductor 101, Wafer Fabrication course and the SGUnited Skills (SGUS) Semiconductor Technology programme to bridge their skillsets and cater to the needs of the industry. 

c. ITE will also be engaging industry partners to introduce new Work-Study Diploma courses for the electronics industry. The Work-Study Diploma programme allows ITE graduates to attain industry-relevant their skills through structured workplace learning and mentorship, while attaining professional certification or an industry-recognised Diploma qualification. 

10. Today, more mid-career jobseekers and young undergraduates from a variety of backgrounds are interested in pursuing a career in the Electronics industry. The various conversion and upskilling initiatives such as the Professional Conversion Programme and SGUnited Traineeships help to open doors to various opportunities for talent to be part of the sector and learn more about our businesses. 

Wafer Fab Parks to be a Conducive Environment for Businesses and Workers

11.  Often, the working environment in Electronics can be sterile with various “clean” rooms. This is important to maintain quality control in our production of various circuits and chips. However, we know also that many of our younger workers today prefer a more vibrant and green environment.   

12. We want to provide such an environment for you. JTC is working closely with partners and businesses to enhance the physical infrastructure for the Electronics sector. Specifically, JTC unveiled a 5-Year Estate Enhancement Plan during the inaugural Electronics Industry Day in 2019 to make Singapore’s Wafer Fab Parks a more lively and conducive environment for talent and companies.

13. From 2021 to 2025, a series of initiatives will be progressively rolled out to the community. 

a. Targeted for completion in mid-2021, the Wafer Fab Parks will take on a new identity with rebranded signages featuring wafer and integrated circuit design. This will bring out the unique identity of Wafer Fab Parks as an attractive work destination. 

b. There will also be new covered walkways and cycling paths for Pasir Ris and Tampines Wafer Fab Parks to improve accessibility and connectivity within the estates, and to nearby amenities and transport nodes by 2023. These allow workers to meet up with friends and family, and run their errands close to their workplace.   

c. In line with our City in Nature effort, JTC collaborated with NParks to refresh the roads and pedestrian walkways with enhanced greenery in phases by 2023. The first phase of roadside streetscape enhancement in Pasir Ris Wafer Fab Park is already ongoing and will complete by end this year.

Conclusion

14. I am confident that the Electronics sector can harness exciting opportunities and emerge stronger in Singapore and beyond. 

15. I encourage companies to take this opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and open new doors together in the growing industry. This way, you can continue to offer many rewarding careers to Singaporeans and our workers.  

16. I also encourage our youth to take part in this journey with our companies and with Singapore. Together, we can make Singapore an essential node in the value chain of electronics.

17. Thank you.

 
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