Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether he can provide an update on how the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector of our aviation industry is currently coping with the present demands for their services arising from the increase in the past year of commercial flights in Changi Airport; and (b) whether the MRO sector will be ready to cope with the likely increase in flights in the coming months which may arise from the re-opening of China’s borders.
The Minister of State for Trade and Industry (Mr Alvin Tan) (for the Minister for Trade and Industry): Sir, our aerospace industry is coping well with the increase in demand for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, following the reopening of borders. The industry’s monthly index of industrial production has exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels since the second quarter of 2022 and grew 27.7% year-on-year in 2022.
We expect MRO demand to grow further as China opens its borders. To cope with this demand, aerospace companies are increasing their recruitment efforts and looking to fill about 3,000 new roles by the end of this year. They are also investing in technology and innovation. For example, Pratt & Whitney announced plans last September to establish its Technology Accelerator here in Singapore, which will develop technologies to increase productivity and help the company meet future demand.
Mr Speaker: Mr Dennis Tan.
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong (Hougang): I thank the Minister of State for the answer. I just have a few supplementary questions. I would like to know whether are there any efforts being made to recruit local MRO professionals or workers who have left the industry during the pandemic? And if so, why efforts have been made to recruit them again? Is there any shortage of local MRO workers and professionals at this point in time?
Mr Alvin Tan: I thank the Member for his questions. I think it is good now to paint a broader picture of the aerospace industry, and to welcome both new entrants to the aerospace industry and also workers who have left and can come back. Let me give Members a broader picture and in this case, it is a bit of a HR practitioner, in this regard.
First, we are attracting new MRO operations in Singapore. I give you two examples. First, there have been many MRO companies that have expanded their operations since last year. They include Liebherr, who is expanding their in-house repair capabilities for hydraulic and heat transfer equipment. They are also working with our EDB to train and develop programmes for their employees. We also have Meggitt, who doubled the size of their centre of excellence to accommodate MRO capabilities for over 100 new aircraft components.
So, we are continuing to attract these aerospace companies into Singapore and helping them also to expand their offerings into Singapore and therefore increasing our manufacturing output.
The second is the ensuing jobs created. Aerospace companies, as mentioned in my earlier reply, are actively recruiting talent to fill the various roles across all of the different MRO sub-segments. There are many roles in demand, you might want to try including technicians, engineers, production associates; and companies are also keen to hire talented emerging areas such as digital services as well as autonomous technologies. This can enhance productivity and innovation in the MRO process.
On the localisation, the aerospace industry has a high rate of job localisation of almost 80%. Majority of them are working as PMETs and the Government is working closely with companies, schools and unions to build a robust local talent pipeline for the sector. So, we will focus on reskilling and upskilling workers in this regard.
Please do join our aerospace industry. We are expanding the industry, we are also creating jobs and we also provide training. I give you two quick examples, SkillsFuture Singapore transition programme on aircraft maintenance for technicians and then also there is a Workforce Singapore’s career conversion programme.
Finally, we are also developing technology and innovation. So, it is not just bringing them in, providing jobs and skilling, but we are looking forward bound into the future. For example, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Rolls-Royce and Singapore Aero Engine Services Private Limited (SAESL) have set up the smart manufacturing joint lab to develop next-generation MRO and manufacturing capabilities. More than 100 SMEs have thus far participated in the joint lab with some becoming qualified suppliers to global aerospace companies.
Finally, we also have a plan. Deputy Prime Minister Heng and I launched our aerospace industry transformation map in October 2022. It is a forward-looking map, which has plans for the aerospace industry to 2025 and we hope to achieve $4.6 billion in real value-added by 2025, which is a 15% increase in our target of ITM 2020.
So, the aerospace sector is looking bright and I encourage Singaporeans to also apply and join the sector.
Ministry of Trade and Industry
7 February 2023