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New policies coming to lure PMETs to construction sector

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Sector's demand to remain robust after hitting five-year high last year

Local white-collar workers appear to be shying away from the construction sector, but new policies are in the offing to lure them back.

The proportion of locals taking up jobs for PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) in the sector has fallen over the past decade, said Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower.

He said many locals preferred jobs that offered better working environments and less manual work, and employers can readily find less-skilled, lower-cost foreign workers.

But policies may be strengthened to give a strong local core to the sector, as construction demand is expected to remain robust.

"Despite the economic headwinds and global uncertainties, we remain optimistic about construction demand in the coming years," Mr Zaqy said.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) projects construction demand to come in 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) at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, and new MRT lines such as the Cross Island Line," he said.

The construction sector accounts for about 4 per cent of Singapore's total gross domestic product.

After hitting a five-year highlast year, total construction demand this year, which is the value of construction contracts to be awarded, is expected to range between $28 million and $33 million.


If the IR expansion projects start earlier than expected, they could boost construction demand this year, BCA chief executive Hugh Lim told reporters yesterday.

"For this year we haven't factored in contracts arising from IR development.

"We do know they are on the horizon but they are still working out their time lines for commencing works.

"If they start earlier than expected, then they will add to the private sector forecast for 2020," he said.

The sector still needs to be anchored by a skilled local workforce at the core, Mr Zaqy said.

To that end, he said the Government is working with the industry to build a pipeline of skilled local graduates and mid-career professionals, particularly in engineering and project management.