MOM to explore minimum quota for higher-skilled construction workers

March 4, 201410:23 am294 views
MOM to explore minimum quota for higher-skilled construction workers
MOM to explore minimum quota for higher-skilled construction workers

SINGAPORE: Construction companies may face the prospect of having a minimum percentage of higher-skilled workers in their workforce.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin added that the government will consult the industry on such a requirement.

Improving productivity in the construction sector has been a continuous challenge.

And, contractors have been encouraged to recruit more skilled and experienced construction workers.

To reduce dependency on lower-skilled workers, the levy for these workers will be raised in 2016.

In addition, companies may be required to have a minimum percentage of higher skilled workers.

“These higher-skilled R1 workers will naturally command a higher salary than R2 ‘Basic Skilled’ workers. But moving towards having a smaller pool of higher skilled and higher paid workers is the right direction for Singapore, rather than towards having a larger pool of more low-skilled but cheaper workers,” said Mr Tan.

But one construction company has raised concerns about the potential impact of such a requirement.

Nan Guan Construction’s managing director, Mohd Abdul Akbar Kader, said: “For any R1 worker, the monthly salary has to be $1,600 or more. This will have great impact on the cost of production and I’m very concerned with that.

“Maybe, if the intent is to increase productivity through this scheme of having a percentage of the total workforce being upgraded to R1 but without stipulating $1,600 is the minimum wage that you should give to R1, maybe (this) is more palatable to the industry.”

During the recent Budget, the government also introduced the Market-Based Skills Recognition framework for construction.

Under the new framework, basic-skilled workers who have worked in Singapore for at least six years and who earn a salary of at least $1,600 will be allowed to upgrade to the higher-skilled R1 status.

Mr Tan also outlined steps taken by the government to bring in more higher-skilled construction workers to enhance resilience in the supply of such workers.

Last year, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) appointed Singapore-based companies to set up Overseas Testing Centres (OTCs) in Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In total, four testing centres in Sri Lanka and three in the Philippines are expected to be ready this year.

“This is an exploratory approach, as we look for more sources of construction workers to meet the continued need for skilled manpower to deliver infrastructure projects and to boost construction productivity,” said Mr Tan.

The target is a total of 400 construction workers from Sri Lanka and Philippines a month, when all testing centres there are fully operational.



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