New sources of workers found

03 Jan 2013

Constructions workers will now be sourced from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to boost supply in Singapore. Workers from these countries speak English, thereby helping to improve communication on the construction site.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) told MediaCorp that two test centres will be set up in Sri Lanka while approvals are being sought to establish test centres in the Philippines.

The main sources of foreign construction workers in Singapore are from China, India and Bangladesh.

Neo Choon Keong, Group Director – Manpower and Strategies Policy, BCA, said that with fast development and rise in jobs in major source countries such as China and India, the number of workers available for work in Singapore is going down.

“We are working with the industry to open up new sources to locate skilled workers, notwithstanding our efforts to reduce the numbers of foreign workers overall through the adoption of technology as well as better building designs,” Neo added.

Infrastructure development such as expanding the rail network and building more flats and health-care facilities have caused the demand for foreign construction workers in Singapore to remain strong in the years ahead, rising from 250,000 in 2011 to about 280,000 in the next two to three years.

Foreign construction workers have to go through a rigorous training regime at test centres in their country, consisting of a full-time programme lasting between three and six months. Only seven out of 10 of these workers eventually pass the test.

After the training, potential workers have to go through a five-hour practical test on essential craft skills as well as a one-hour theory test on trade knowledge.

Besides bringing in better quality construction foreign workers, the BCA also has a comprehensive training framework to continuously upgrade them. Some 12,000 have upgraded their skills through these various programmes.

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