Lawrence Wong announces S$72m fund to boost workforce, skills training in construction industry

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National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. (Photo: Screengrab from YouTube)

The government has set up a S$72 million training fund to boost the workforce and provide skills training in the construction industry from June last year to May 2020.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who delivered a speech at the iBuildSG Scholarship and Sponsorship Ceremony at the National University of Singapore, said that the funds would towards boosting skills in the sector, including financing existing scholarship and sponsorship programmes for students and adults.

A S$72 million training fund has been set up to boost workforce and provide skills training in the construction industry. (Photo: Screengrab from YouTube)

Beneficiaries of the training fund include architects, facility managers, and the 118,000 Singaporeans working in the construction industry.

Enhancement of iBuildSG Scholarship and Sponsorship programme for those seeking academic qualifications on a full-time undergraduate, diploma or Institute of Technical Education (ITE) track would be funded from the S$72 million.

A total of 448 scholarships and sponsorships have been awarded to polytechnic and ITE students, university graduates and postgraduates by Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and by 108 industry sponsors at the ceremony.

In the sponsorship programme, which was previously opened only to polytechnic and ITE graduates, students are partnered with industry firms making sure that a job awaits for the students in the sponsoring firm.

Aside from that, on-the-job training programmes and part-time upgrading courses would be offered to the students.

Part of the scholarships and sponsorships are $3,000 training grant to attend skills and competency courses and $7,000 retention incentive one year after the completion of their bond with their sponsoring firm.

Photo: Screengrab from YouTube

Minister Wong also announced that the existing Building Specialist Sponsorship programme will be extended from two to three years in order to support the training of technical personnel and to allow students to attend longer courses, such as part-time Nitec, higher Nitec, and post-ITE development courses.

Changes in the construction sector are behind compared to the other sectors like transport and finance. But Wong pointed out that “the construction industry is rapidly changing, and it is changing all over the world, including in Singapore.”

He added that venture funding in building technology was growing and traditional firms were starting to do more to transform how they build, picking up new capabilities in automation, prefabrication, and digital building and design methods.

“To make all these happen, our people are at the heart of this transformation journey. How far we go depends on the quality of the people we have.”

By the first quarter of 2019, a new tripartite committee will also be set up to map out career pathways for Singaporeans in the built environment sector, comprising stakeholders from institutes of higher learning, trade associations and unions, among others.

iBuildSG Club will also be launched in April. This is an outreach initiative where students in secondary schools and tertiary institutions are exposed to the construction industry through learning journeys and site visits.