Construction sector faces labour crunch
Stricter foreign worker quota to affect industry
by Wong Siew Ying 04:46 AM Mar 02, 2012
SINGAPORE - The Singapore construction industry is facing a labour crunch with the stricter foreign manpower quota, even as the pipeline of projects remains strong.
Many contractors are already taking measures to raise productivity levels, but they are also hoping that more can be done to help them boost efficiency by retaining higher-skilled foreign workers.
Contractors are hoping that the Government will relook the requirements for extending the length of stay for higher-skilled foreign workers.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said it is working with relevant ministries to review the length of stay for higher-skilled workers.
"I do agree with them that it is important to give a longer period for these workers to gain experience so that they can be more productive, so a shorter period may not be the best way to go," said BCA CEO John Keung.
For some construction firms such as Lian Beng Group, the way forward could be by diversifying into other processes, such as precasting technology and off-site building fabrication, much like what the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is doing.
About 70 per cent of building components, such as walls, floor slabs, staircases and refuse chutes, in HDB flats are currently fabricated off-site. This is much higher than in private developments, where about 30 per cent of building components are prefabricated, the HDB told MediaCorp.
The HDB's methods have led to higher construction productivity of 2.28 man days per sq m, compared with 3.13 man days per sq m in private developments.
As part of efforts to promote prefabrication, the HDB said it regularly shares its experience with its consultants.
Last year, the construction sector booked S$32 billion in contracts and the BCA expects demand to remain strong for the next three to four years.