Construction industry stakeholders call for safe and controlled entry of foreign workers

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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May 17, 2021 3:46 PM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Key stakeholders in Singapore’s construction industry have issued an open letter to the multi-ministry taskforce appealing for the safe and controlled entry of foreign workers to alleviate the acute manpower shortage plaguing the local construction industry.
The appeal was sent by the Construction Industry Joint Committee (CIJC), which includes key industry bodies such as Institution of Engineers Singapore, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore, Singapore Contractors Association, Singapore Green Building Council, and Singapore Institute of Architects.
The letter highlights serious concerns about the manpower situation for the construction industry, noting that “the complexity and nature of construction work necessitates the deployment of workers from various trades, and the current reduced workforce is already working at maximum capacity, increasing the risks of workplace incidents”.
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The CIJC says that many players in the built environment sector are “suffering from reduced productivity due to safe management measures at the worksites” and many migrant workers plan to return to their home countries when their work permits expire.
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The local construction industry has been bogged down by a reduced pool of foreign workers, and the current workforce is already working at maximum capacity, increasing the risks of workplace incidents. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The built environment sector in Singapore comprises over 18,000 firms and employs tens of thousands of locals whose jobs remain at stake if the industry cannot continue to sustain itself, the CJIC adds.
Several construction and infrastructure projects have already been badly hit by the manpower shortages. This includes HDB and private residential developments, public infrastructure projects such as hospitals, MRT projects, schools, and industrial developments.
“The reality is that the industry needs sufficient inflow of migrant workers, both returning and new ones, to take over the place of those who have left Singapore for various reasons, in order to sustain the industry and ensure that we can deliver on our projects”, the CIJC says.
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While the industry as a whole is committed to its long-term goal of accelerating the adoption of labour-efficient construction technologies such as prefabrication initiatives and redesigning business processes, these will take time to trickle down to the companies that make up the built environment sector.
The CIJC urges the government to adopt a balanced approach and work with the industry to allow the recruitment and inflow of foreign manpower, adding: “We are prepared to work with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to establish a viable end-to-end system to bring in migrant workers in a safe and controlled manner so as to enable work to continue, while keeping Singaporeans safe.”

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