FROM its early days as a British trading base in the early 1800s, Singapore has grown into a leading logistics hub, with 20 of the world’s top 25 logistics players now having a presence here.

This has positively impacted the local economy, as the transportation and storage sector contributed about 7 per cent to the national gross domestic product last year.

The burgeoning logistics and supply chain management (SCM) sectors have also paved the way for abundant job opportunities. Last year, there were 192,600 logistics professionals who made up 9 per cent of the total Singapore workforce.

Employment within these industries is expected to increase as more multinational companies (MNCs) gravitate to Asia, in response to growing opportunities in the region.

Among these businesses, a good number have chosen Singapore as their preferred location for regional or global supply chain operations. Consumer companies such as Unilever and semiconductor companies like Infineon are two prominent examples.

With the growth of cities in Asia as well as the rise of e-commerce, which has led to the emergence of new fulfilment requirements, supply chain professionals can look forward to more exposure to complex and sophisticated supply chain design, planning and operational roles in trade optimisation, network optimisation, consulting and solutions development.

These developments have also led to more exciting and rewarding regional and global career opportunities. Indeed, jobs in the logistics sector go beyond just goods delivery.


Technology advance, specialisation

To serve increasingly complex and sophisticated supply chain challenges, logistics companies need to embrace technological innovation and nurture a steady pool of specialised talents.

Earlier this year, DHL broke ground for its Supply Chain Advanced Regional Centre, which is expected to employ over 2,000 staff on completion.

DHL plans to hire and train a local team of specialists well versed in automation solutions and applications, to effectively transform its operations through the pervasive and sustainable adoption of automation technology such as the state-of-the-art AutoStore solution deployed by Texas Instruments in Singapore.

Such a transformation in operations will lead to a significant reduction in manual labour and open doors to more skilled jobs.

More recently, UPS established its Trade Management Services regional headquarters in Singapore to consolidate and strengthen its consulting expertise on trade compliance and supply chain network optimisation.

To keep its staff relevant and knowledgeable, the company will send a team of trade managers to various Asian locations to better understand the region’s trade and regulatory landscape.


Continual up-skilling needed

Industry developments like these offer Singaporeans numerous employment opportunities. For fresh graduates and mid-career professionals seeking intellectually challenging and rewarding work experiences, the logistics and SCM sectors offer a range of job functions from consulting and solutions development, to planning and operations management.

These skillsets are not only valuable to progress in the logistics and SCM sectors, such fundamental problem-solving and management skills are also highly sought after in many other services and manufacturing sectors.

Today, there are many avenues for logistics and supply chain professionals to acquire and upgrade their knowledge and know-how in logistics and supply chain management.

Besides in-house training provided by companies, the Singapore Institute of Materials Management and the Singapore Logistics Association also offer executive training programmes, some of which are certified by the Workforce Skills Qualifications System.

Topics covered include integrated logistics and SCM, international freight management, integrated materials and procurement management, and resilience and supply chain security management, to name a few.

Postgraduate and undergraduate programmes are also available for those keen on joining the logistics field. Graduates can register for master’s programmes in logistics, SCM, or transport and logistics with the German Institute of Science and Technology (Singapore), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and The Logistics Institute Asia-Pacific.

Undergraduate courses at local universities — the National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University and SUTD — also provide a glimpse into the SCM world by equipping students with knowledge in areas such as risk management, supply chain analytics and sustainable supply chains.


Looking ahead

Singapore needs to stay abreast of new technological developments, and companies are exploring the deployment of new logistics solutions such as drones and autonomous cranes.

Additive manufacturing also has the potential to transform global supply chains. To design and deploy next generation supply chains, the logistics professionals of tomorrow will need to understand the effects of these changes and develop insights and capabilities.

As the lead agency driving the growth and transformation of the local logistics industry, the Singapore Economic Development Board will continue to work with leading logistics and supply chain companies to build their regional and global supply chain activities in Singapore. This will continue to pave the way for more exciting job and career opportunities in this sector.


Article by Lee Eng Keat, Director of Logistics, Singapore Economic Development Board