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Desmond Tan: Talent, tripartism and teamwork key to Singapore port’s success

The NTUC Deputy Secretary-General made this point at a landmark memorandum of understanding signing event to uplift port workers.

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By Nicolette Yeo 28 Sep 2023
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Singapore has one of the top ports in the world due to the country’s focus on talent, tripartism and teamwork.


NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan highlighted this in his speech at a landmark event on 28 September 2023 at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment & Employability to uplift port workers and prepare them for the upcoming Tuas Mega Port.


The event saw the Singapore Port Workers Union (SPWU), PSA, and the port operator’s eleven supplier companies ink a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance workers’ productivity, technologies, and training methods.


“The first is really the talent that we have, the talent of our people [who have] the determination to do well, and [are] our human resources. I can see the kind of desire, determination and persistence to want to do well.


“Tripartism is a very unique treasure that we have between the Government, employers, the unions and workers that has given us a very strong foundation to succeed. Because we fundamentally believe that to take care of the workers, you have to look after and grow the business.


“With this philosophy, we continue to persevere and support the companies to do well. And in turn, you have been looking after our employees and our staff, and that’s why we can succeed together,” added Mr Tan.


On teamwork, he pointed out that the MOU brought eleven competitor companies together to advance Singapore’s port industry.


“We understand that with a small open economy, we cannot compete among ourselves all the time. Yes, we compete for businesses, and we need to do well. But at the end of the day, we compete as one Singapore team, one PSA team,” he said, adding that such a move is rarely seen in other countries.


Mr Tan also stressed that talent, tripartism and teamwork are undergirded by the trust tripartite partners have carefully built over the years.


Mr Tan, SPWU Executive Secretary Jessie Yeo and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) Chief Executive Officer Caryn Lim witnessed the MOU signing.


Representatives from SPWU, PSA, e2i and supplier companies also attended the event.


Other MOU highlights


The MOU also rallies all stakeholders to work together to implement best practices in skills upgrading and training programmes.


The MOU will also see SPWU, PSA and the supplier companies embark on a sectoral Operation and Technology Roadmap facilitated by NTUC Industry Training Officers (ITOs) to chart the capability and workforce development of the port sector.


PSA’s supplier companies play a key role in augmenting PSA’s workforce, mainly supplying lashing workers and prime mover drivers. They ensure that the manning level in the port remains competitive and improve the efficiency within the global supply chain and logistics ecosystem.


“Over the years, we have also seen that as the port transforms, the need for the workers to train, retrain and embrace changes has been a continuous effort.


“I'm very happy that today all eleven companies have agreed to partner with us on this journey of transforming and reskilling workers. I’m quite sure we will be able to do more and stay ahead of the competition together,” said Ms Yeo in her address at the event.


Ms Yeo and Mr Tan also highlighted that companies could tap into NTUC’s resources to transform their businesses. These include partnering with e2i on training grants, the NTUC CTC grant and job placement support.