Construction firms urged to move decisively away from labour intensive construction methods

Extending permits and making it easier to obtain skills certification are two ways the Singapore government have tried to alleviate the manpower crunch.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) has urged construction firms to reduce their reliance on migrant workers, as well as to “move decisively away from labour-intensive construction methods for new projects”.

“We encourage firms to take this opportunity to transform, and tap on available incentives such as the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Construction Productivity and Capability Fund (CPCF) and Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) to improve their productivity, so that the construction industry can be more resilient,” it said in Parliament on Monday (1 November).

MND revealed that the government has rolled out several measures to alleviate the manpower crunch facing construction firms.

Notably, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has partnered with the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) for a retention scheme, in which interested employers are matched with experienced construction workers whose work passes have been cancelled or have expired but who still want to work in Singapore, it said.

MOM has also “allowed work permit holders (WPHs) whose permits are expiring between July and December 2021 to renew their permits for up to two more years”.

This includes those who are reaching their maximum Period of Employment and/or their maximum age, added MND.

The ministry made the statement in response to MP Shawn Huang Wei Zhong, who asked about the measures taken by the government to address the manpower supply crunch facing construction companies.

In its reply, MND noted that the government has also helped construction companies bring in new workers.

“BCA has worked with MOM to temporarily allow new construction WPHs from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to obtain their skills certification in Singapore instead of at Overseas Testing Centres in the PRC, from 7 May 2021 until the end of this year,” it said.

Other approved sources of construction WPHs have also been extended this temporary flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

MND pointed that the industry has also taken the lead via an “Alliance for Action (AfA) approach to bring in more workers safely through a tightened end-to-end process”.

The process involves protocols like a strict COVID-19 testing regime for a period of 14 days for workers in source countries before departing for Singapore.

“From 1 November 2021, the industry can also apply to bring in vaccinated WPHs from countries such as India and Bangladesh,” added MND.

However, the industry should expect a longer waiting time for the latter channel due to high demand, it said.

MND assured that it would continue to work “with the construction industry to bring in more workers safely to meet the needs of key ongoing projects, such as HDB’s BTO projects, in the coming months”.

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Cheryl Chiew, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this story, email:

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