The shortage of local commodity traders with the "right type" of skills is prompting moves to boost training options.

Demand for such skilled employees is intense with international firms like Swiss-based Trafigura, mining giant BHP Billiton, the Emirates National Oil Company, and commodity groups Noble, Wilmar International and Olam International running major trading operations here.

Mr Frederik Groth, chief executive of trading house Toepfer International Asia, said yesterday: "The agricultural commodity trade is a specific part of the trading business. Today it is hard to find any experienced and successful traders that are willing to change the boat."

Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran acknowledged the problem and said the Government will keep supporting the growth of local talent in the sector.

He noted that about 12,000 people are employed in the trading sector, and 60 per cent of them are Singaporeans.

Mr Iswaran also announced two initiatives to help tackle the issue during a ceremony to mark the fifth anniversary of the International Trading Institute at the Singapore Management University (ITI@SMU).

One is an eight-day advanced certificate in trading programme that will give graduate students a basic knowledge of the trading sector, easing their transition into the commodities sector. The pioneer batch of 21 students started the programme last month and will complete it later this month.

SMU has also signed a memorandum of understanding to extend some of ITI@SMU's programmes to students at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The two universities will jointly develop a trading associate programme to commence next year. It will cover the shipping business, trade finance, oil trading and petrochemical trading.