Speech for Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, at the Electronics Industry Day
Mr Andrew Chong, Chairman of the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Good afternoon. I am glad to attend JTC’s inaugural Electronics Industry Day.
- The electronics sector is an important economic pillar for Singapore. Today, the sector provides around 90,000 jobs, or close to one-fifth of Singapore’s manufacturing workforce.
- Global uncertainties have put a drag on Singapore’s economy in recent months, and the electronics sector has not been spared. Nonetheless, there remain opportunities in this sector for our businesses, our workers and also for our young people, our students who have yet to complete your education but would soon be joining the workforce. The adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, automation, and autonomous vehicles are creating new business opportunities. For example, autonomous vehicles rely on sensors to navigate, sense and respond to their surroundings. The global automotive semiconductor market is expected to exceed US$65 billion in 2025, driven by growth in the electric and autonomous vehicle markets. 2 Similarly, in the consumer electronics market, new products in areas such as speech recognition and wearables will continue to generate demand for semiconductors.
- Singapore remains a choice location for companies in the electronics sector. Investments within the sector have remained steady – fixed asset investments in electronics accounted for nearly two-thirds of that secured by the manufacturing sector in the first six months of 2019.3 Companies such as Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company (SSMC), Micron, and STMicroelectronics are notable examples that have continued to expand their production capacity in Singapore. Almost a year ago, SSMC opened its S$300 million cleanroom facility to boost the firm’s automotive and specialty chip manufacturing. In August this year, we saw the opening of Micron Technology’s latest cleanroom facility; a multi-billion dollar investment that will enable technology transitions to advanced nodes of 3D NAND technology. And a month after that, STMicroelectronics opened its new wafer fabrication facility, which will more than double the company’s 8-inch fab manufacturing capacity. These are just some examples of investments that our agencies have attracted over the past year or so. Together, the three examples highlighted would create about 1,000 new jobs in Singapore.
- Beyond attracting investments, the other important area for us to focus on is how do we create a conducive work environment for our companies and workers.
Rejuvenating our Estates to Support our Businesses and Workers
- To support the growth of the semiconductor industry, JTC will be developing a new facility at Tampines to provide space for companies to start up their operations quickly. Named JTC semiconSpace, the vibration-controlled facility will be built in three phases, with the first phase expected to be completed in 2021.
- We are also rejuvenating our industrial estates to create a more conducive environment for our workers because we know, to attract young people to join the sector, we need to create a conducive working environment for them. Starting with the Tampines and Pasir Ris wafer fab parks, we will build sheltered walkways and cycling paths that will connect the two estates to Singapore’s island-wide Park Connector Network. Residents in the area will benefit from the park connection to the Round Island Route, which will provide access to Coney Island, Punggol Waterway, Pasir Ris Park and Bedok Reservoir.
- In line with our City in a Garden effort, the two wafer fab parks will be refreshed with enhanced greenery and streetscape that will create more attractive and environmentally sustainable work spaces.
- Enhancements to the Tampines and Pasir Ris estates have already started, and JTC targets to complete the projects by 2025. These will allow us to take a further step forward in maintaining a vibrant manufacturing workplace to enhance Singapore’s liveability and remain attractive to talent and businesses.
- Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” In the same way, we shape our working environment and they shape us. Creating conducive working environments can not only bring about a place that can enhance productivity and staff morale but also promote more interaction and collaboration among the companies. This is what JTC wants to do.
Growing Talent in Manufacturing
- As the electronics sector transforms, we want to ensure that Singaporean workers are equipped with the right skills to take on the many exciting job opportunities in the sector. This will also help companies to build up their talent pipelines.
- A useful way to achieve this objective is for our students to have early exposure to the available career opportunities in the industry. Many of the electronic companies here today offer a multitude of internship places and they collaborate with our Institutes of Higher Learning to offer students with experiential learning experiences. For example, four NUS undergraduate interns at Micron were given the challenge of developing an autonomous vehicle with the support of Micron engineers, and the students succeeded in developing a working prototype within a short span of six months. So do not underestimate our young people. They have a lot of creativity, a lot of talent and I am sure given the right opportunities and training, they can create a brighter future for all of us. Since then, another seven interns from NUS have helped to build two more autonomous vehicles, which are now being deployed in Micron’s campus. Such opportunities are valuable in giving our students a glimpse into the possibilities in the industry, and hands-on experience in the field.
- I hope today’s event will open even more doors for our students to appreciate the exciting work and career opportunities in this sector, with companies hosting students on their premises and sharing more about their operations.
- Let me end by thanking the electronics companies for coming together to make the first Electronics Industry Day a success. I encourage our companies to use this opportunity to learn from one another and exchange ideas, and hope our students will be inspired by what you experience today and consider taking up a career in this exciting sector.
- Thank you