According to recent market reports, some have valued Singapore’s logistics market at over S$25bn, with industry experts excited over the government’s focus on sustainable technologies that will come online at the new Tuas Port, which is scheduled to be fully completed in 2040, and become the world’s single largest container port.
A lot of the fizz in the logistic sector has been driven by the aftermath of Covid-19, which has led to countries focused on strengthening their own food security and supply-chain capabilities. Currently, according to Ministry of Manpower statistics, more than 256,000 people work in transportation and storage services.
As such, investment has poured in to build more cold-chain facilities, such as the S$200m spent by local investment Commonwealth Capital and Japan’s food-and-beverage (F&B) cold-chain specialist Kobuku Group.
With a total floor area of 500,000 square feet and a cold storage capacity of up to 80 million kg of goods, it is set for completion in 2025.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said such facilities will make Singapore a focus point as a trade and logistics hub, and Singapore expects to increase its stake in the cold-chain perishables market, according to reports in the Business Times.
“Increasing demand from Asia for imported perishables and food security concerns will drive the need for cold storage to extend the shelf life of food products.”
Associate professor Mabel Chou, Department of Analytics and Operations, at NUS Business School, shared with Workipedia by MyCareersFuture: “Due to the recent disruptions around major global supply chains such as China, many global companies are reassessing their supply chain resilience to ensure diversification of supply chain.
“Many firms are adopting a “China + 1” strategy and moving part of their production to Southeast Asia as a diversification.
“Due to the structural changes of the industries and the slowdown in China’s economy, Chinese firms are also looking to diversify part of their production bases to Southeast Asia as well.
“In the short term, there will be increased competition for logistics talent, particularly for those who have strong expertise and experience in Southeast Asia.”
Singapore’s logistics job market
As such, the logistics sector has been hiring, with British international recruitment agency Robert Walters’ Salary Guide for 2023 earmarking jobs in the industry as highly sought after.
It also made the following findings for the sector:
- The roles in highest demand include global logistics managers, category managers, and leadership roles pertaining to supply chain and procurement centres of excellence.
- Technical skill sets sought after in the logistic industry include proficiency in SAP, Tableau, SQL, Power BI, AutoCAD for warehousing solutions designing, and master data management. In terms of soft skills, employers are looking for skills in business analysis, contract negotiation, digital transformation and automation, 3PL and vendor management, or process and continuous improvement frameworks.
- Those who move into the industry can expect an increment of 15-20% for permanent roles.
- 88% of logistics-linked businesses are giving pay rises, while 67% of professionals in the industry expect a pay rise in this year.
Not just for PMETS, if you’re willing to upskill and reskill
But it’s not just professional roles that are boasting competitive salaries. Non- professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) roles are also showing good salaries and opportunities for those who move into the industry.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Thiban Mahaindran shared that he managed to triple his salary by moving into the logistics industry.
Previous a mechanic earning around S$1,800 a month, he learnt from a prime mover driver whose truck he had inspected that, with his Class 3 and 4 driving licence, he could join the logistics industry and earn S$5,000 monthly instead.
He quit his job the next day and became a prime mover driver instead. This was eight years ago, and currently he is the head of transportation at Asian Worldwide Services (AWS) Singapore and manages a fleet of ten prime mover drivers himself.
One of Thiban’s drivers, Prem Kumar, 28, shared he has been earning around S$5,000 since he began driving six years ago.
Another driver at AWS, Meghan had just begun driving a few months ago, and estimated in December 2022 that his salary for that month would hit S$4,200. Like Thiban, their highest qualification is an ITE certificate.
Women wanted in Singapore’s logistics workforce
The industry is aiming to attract more women to join the sector and is willing to redesign job tasks and work arrangements to accommodate their needs.
In Aug 2022, 10 firms in the logistics and supply chain sector signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with labour movement NTUC.
They pledged to implement progressive workplace policies, and committed to reviewing their flexible work arrangements, redesigning job roles and providing training for female workers to take on jobs in the sector.
Mr Dave Ng, group chief executive of logistics firm Bok Seng Logistics, said in a Straits Times report: “One area would be in the warehouse, let’s say, the job of a stock picker, which you do not need to have fixed working hours for.”
He shared that technology and effective scheduling can allow women workers to work on picking out stock and packing shipments together whenever they can.
Ultimately, logistic workers will have to upskill for digitalisation
Professor Chou revealed that many logistic firms have embarked on warehouse automation projects, such as Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS).
She added: “New sectors requiring different logistics skills have emerged and these include the proliferation of online retail channels and cold chain.
“These sectors require operational expertise and infrastructure that is different from the conventional logistics.”
Unlike in the past, workers in the logistics industry in the future need to understand and operate automated machines such as sophisticated ASRS as well as mobility robots such as Kiva Robots, according to Professor Chou.
Ultimately, managers will need to be trained to understand and use big data, both in terms of analysis to understand trends and to predict failures or changes in the supply chain. Logistics professionals will need to further their understanding of supply chain practices of the Southeast Asia region and their challenges and limitation to incorporate these inputs when constructing and planning regional supply chain networks.
Professor Chou concluded: “Workers of the logistics industry need to raise their IT capabilities and their tech savviness to stay relevant and employable in the logistics industry.
“This will require a constant upgrade through short skill-based training courses in these topics, coupled with constant exposure of the new settings in the region, so that they can have the right skills and understanding to add value to the companies or clients that they are serving.”
Keen to learn more about Singapore’s logistics industry and how you can jump in? Read more below!