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Construction workers in Singapore

New measures to boost local construction skills

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Following his claim that more can be done to improve productivity in Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has announced new measures to increase the pool of skilled labour within the construction sector.

Skills upgrading for construction workers in Singapore will be made compulsory in progressive phases from January 2015.

First, construction firms will be required to upgrade 5% of their own work-permit holders (WPHs) to R1 (higher-skilled) status by end 2015, and another 5% by end 2016. This will enlarge the pool of R1 WPHs in Singapore, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower stated in a press release.

Following the two year upgrading phase, the government will introduce a minimum 10% R1 requirement for all construction firms from 1 January 2017. This is designed to encourage all firms to retain a critical mass of R1 WPHs, after they have upgraded their own workers.

As an added measure to help construction firms build up their pool of R1 workers, the government will also introduce a new R1 qualification pathway from 1 September 2015.

“Skilled construction workers who earn a fixed monthly salary of $1,600 or more, and pass a coretrade or multi-skilling equivalent test, can qualify as a R1 worker,” MOM said.

“This new pathway will benefit skilled workers who are classified as R2 (basic-skilled) today but are not eligible to convert to R1 due to insufficient years of local construction work experience.

In addition, employers will be allowed to hire construction WPHs at the end of their work permit period, without having to leave Singapore, from 1 June 2015.

MOM explained the policy will allow Singapore to retain better workers and reduce the risk of losing them to other work destinations.

 Image: Shutterstock

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