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Zaqy wants more local PMETs to work in construction but avg salary of civil engineer remains low

Speaking at the BCA-Redas built environment and property prospects seminar yesterday (8 Jan), Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that the proportion of locals taking up jobs for PMETs in the construction sector has fallen over the past decade.

He said that new policies are in place to attract local white-collar workers back to the construction sector, he added.

But Zaqy also acknowledged that employers can readily find less-skilled foreign workers at a lower cost in this sector.

The construction sector accounts for about 4 per cent of Singapore’s total gross domestic product. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) projects construction demand to be between $27 billion and $34 billion a year from 2021 to 2022, and between $28 billion and $35 billion a year from 2023 to 2024.

“Beyond 2020, we see construction demand strengthening further… supported by major developments such as Changi Airport Terminal 5, developments at Jurong Lake District, the expansion of the two integrated resorts (IRs) – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa – and new MRT lines such as the Cross Island Line,” Zaqy said.

BCA chief executive Brigadier-General Hugh Lim told reporters that a skills framework for the construction sector will be launched later this year.

He noted that the BIM (building information modelling) professional conversion programme (PCP), which helps mid-career PMETs acquire skills to switch to the sector, has not been very successful.

“Few firms have taken this up, compared with the PCPs in other sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing. So we will need to work with (the industry) to help more fresh graduates and mid-career professionals enter the sector,” he said.

Average salary for civil engineers much lower than national median salary

It’s not difficult to find out why less Singaporean PMETs are willing to take up jobs in the construction sector if BG Lim only bothers to find out the kind of salaries they are getting in construction.

According to job site, the average salary for a civil engineer is $3,927 per month in Singapore. Salary estimates are based on 264 salaries submitted to Indeed by employees, users, and collected from past and present job sponsorships on Indeed in the past 36 months.

However, in the latest MOM report published two months ago (28 Nov), the nominal median income of Singapore residents on full-time employment is now stated to be $4,563 (‘Income growth slows in Singapore; median salary now above S$4,500: MOM report‘).

For comparison, in the case of a financial analyst, he would be getting $4,739 on average, according to Indeed, higher than the national nominal median salary.


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