BRAVING NEW WAVES TOGETHER
Battle For Hearts And Minds
Image Enhancement Campaign
Once relatively unknown to the average Singaporean, the marine and offshore industry is making its presence felt. This follows an Image Enhancement Campaign mounted by ASMI in 2004 to raise awareness and generate interests among Singaporeans and change their perception of the industry.
A tagline, ‘Singapore Marine Industry, World Class and More…’ was adopted for the campaign. Crafted by ASMI Council, 2003-2005, to brand and convey the achievements of the industry, it used a multi-prong approach to reach out to potential entrants to the industry in particular and the wider community in general.
Career talks and fairs, shipyard excursions, and inter-school competitions were organised by ASMI to target students in secondary schools, junior colleges, ITE campuses and tertiary institutions as part of its industry outreach programme.
Participation at job fairs and road shows helped to publicise the industry and job opportunities to job seekers. The mass media – the newspapers, radio and even television – were also employed to increase the industry’s visibility among the general population particularly parents, friends and teachers who have an influence on the young.
“We have to fight for the talent pool at a time of ever-expanding opportunities for the young. We have tried very hard to promote the industry jointly with the MPA, Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF), through television and other ways. We have encouraged young people, and hosted young people at yard visits to show that the shipyard is an attractive option,” said Mr Choo.
The multi-faceted publicity programmes, which give the public an insight into the industry and the attractive job options available, are beginning to pay off. Companies have received more enquiries at job fairs, increased number of job applications and improved quality of applications for scholarships and jobs. The polytechnics have also received more and better-quality enrolments by Singaporeans for their marine-related diploma programmes.
In the battle to capture the attention of the young and fire their interests, industry ambassadors have visited schools to give talks during their career fairs. Students and teachers were invited to visit the shipyards as part of the schools’ learning journey and excursion programmes, and such trips have proven to be an eye-opener for many. Magazines have been published to reach out to different target audiences.
To introduce the industry to students in a fun-filled way, ASMI organised a day-long Marine Learning Carnival in 2005 and 2006, jointly with Ngee Ann Polytechnic and EDB Marine LIUP. The learning carnival included exhibitions and inter-school competitions. A hot favourite with students was the Amphibian Challenge, where teams from schools vied against each other to design and build model boats, drawing on the knowledge of physics, fundamentals of ships and their creative talents. There was also a quiz competition focusing on the world of ships and rigs, to help broaden the students’ knowledge of the industry.
Television has also been used to extend the reach to a wider audience. The marine and offshore industry was featured in a prime time television variety game show in 2006. ASMI co-ordinated the marine and offshore segment to profile the industry in the eight-part series initiated by the EDB to showcase various sectors in Singapore’s manufacturing industry. Commercials were also produced by ASMI and aired during the show.
In 2007, a Mandarin drama serial with a star-studded cast, the first in the industry’s history, was screened on prime time television. Commissioned by ASMI in collaboration with Keppel Corporation, MPA and SMF, the 21-episode serial, The Peak, using shipyards as backdrop, gave viewers insights into the working life and challenges in the marine and offshore industry.
The drama serial was a revelation for many, who had no idea that mega oil rigs were made in Singapore much less its towering reputation in the global scene. Neither did they realise that the industry employed talents from a whole spectrum of disciplines, not just in engineering but also in economics, business, law and accountancy. The serial helped to dispel myths and change the perception of many job seekers, resulting in a spike in recruitment numbers.
In 2008, a four-part documentary series, Sea of Opportunities, commissioned by the SMF, was screened to introduce the different façade of the Singapore maritime industry – shipping and port, ship repairing, FPSO conversion and ship broking. The documentary gave viewers a sense of the breadth and depth, the dynamism as well as diverse career opportunities offered by the maritime industry.
ASMI also joined forces with MPA, SMF and the Singapore Shipping Association under the Maritime Outreach Network or MaritimeONE initiative to promote the maritime industry and its career opportunities to young Singaporeans. Among the projects launched were the NetworkONE receptions and a maritime career web portal featuring information on the industry, careers available and job postings. The NetworkONE receptions provide a meeting point for prospective maritime employers to interact with tertiary students and discuss career opportunities together.
Industry promotion has intensified in the association’s drive to increase the industry’s visibility and ensure that it remains on the radar of customers across the globe. Increasing efforts have been made to profile the industry internationally in the major maritime and oil and gas trade shows.
ASMI has been active in organising Singapore Pavilions in premier overseas exhibitions in key markets such as the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston (USA), Nor-Shipping in Oslo (Norway), Posidonia in Athens (Greece), and Marintec China Conference and Exhibition in Shanghai (China). At home, ASMI has rallied its members to participate in two maritime trade shows – Asia Pacific Maritime and Sea Asia.
Such collective participation, organised with funding support from the International Enterprise Singapore, and at times with the SMF, has helped to raise the profile for Singapore as a global marine and offshore hub and international maritime centre. It has also provided opportunities for the participating companies not only to showcase their capabilities and products but also to suss out the competition and explore potential partnerships with overseas contacts.
Increasingly companies in the marine supporting industry are showcasing their products and services alongside industry majors. Their participation has not only enhanced their market intelligence, it has also extended their network of contacts and opportunities, some of which have materialised into contracts.
“Together with the SMF and MPA, we promote the industry. We have a good product. Our track record speaks for itself,” said Mr Hoe. “We have sold ourselves pretty well – that Singapore is still a competitive place to build and repair ships in a first world environment, and it is English speaking.”
By using the buoyant conditions to rev up its image campaign, the Singapore marine and offshore industry has gained greater recognition both at home and abroad, in keeping with its status as a leading player in the marine and offshore industry.
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