Minister of Manpower Zaqy Mohamad. Photo: sgsme.sg

On Wednesday (8 January), Zaqy Mohamad, Minister for State for National Development and Manpower said that the strong construction demand in the country is expected to continue this year even in the midst of global economic uncertainties and challenges. This year will pick up from last year’s record-high construction demand.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced that the estimated construction demand valued at S$33.4 billion reached a five-year high last year. This figure is higher than the projected S$32 billion.

Mr Zaqy stated that this increase “represents a 9.5 per cent increase in construction demand compared to the year before.”

The public sector construction demand was fuelled by the industrial and building projects in the Punggol Digital District whereas private sector demand came from the ongoing demand from residential en-bloc projects and new petrochemical facilities, he added.

Contracts valuing between S$28 billion and S$33 billion will be awarded in 2020, according to BCA estimates.

At the BCA-REDAS Built Environment and Property Prospects Seminar, Mr Zaqy stated 60 per cent of construction demand will come from public sector projects. BCA stated that public sector contracts valuing between S$17.5 billion and S$20.5 billion will be awarded in 2020.

“Beyond 2020, we foresee construction demand to strengthen further,” he further added. Private demand will amount to between S$10.5 billion and S$12.5 billion. Construction demand in future years is expected to increase. For 2021 and 2022, it is expected to value between S$27 billion and S$34 billion whereas for 2023 and 2024, it is expected to be between S$28 billion and S$35 billion.

“This growth will be supported by major developments such as Changi Airport Terminal 5, developments at Jurong Lake District, the expansion of the two Integrated Resorts at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa and new MRT lines such as the Cross Island Line”, he elaborated.

According to Mr Zaqy, it is imperative that a skilled and capable pool of local workforce be the main driver of the construction sector. He added that the proportion of Singaporeans working in Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) jobs has been declining for the past 10 years.

“Compared to manufacturing, services, banking and technology, many locals opted to join sectors with better working environments and less manual work…Using traditional design and construction methods, employers could readily find less-skilled, lower-cost foreign workers to fulfil the jobs within the industry,” he said.

At the moment, BCA and the government is looking to address this matter, and Mr Zaqy confirmed that “At the PMET level, we have created many new and attractive jobs through the transformation of the industry.”

Mid-career professionals can make a career shift through the Building Information Modelling Professional Conversion Programme which allows them to eventually enter the job market as Building Information Modelling professionals in the built environment sector. In addition to this, through the work-study programmes and scholarship, BCA is also targeting the local graduates.

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