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Pay hikes in store for skilled workers

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Construction firms are proposing a pay hike of up to 20% in order to attract and retain workers in the tight labour market.

Currently, workers who have at least four years of experience earn about $800 monthly, but the new review will see them earning up to $1,000, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

This is a huge jump from two years ago, when most workers earned $500 regardless of experience.

The salary increments can be attributed to the tightening labour pool in China, India and Bangladesh, which accounts for almost 300,000 of the workers here.

“The thinking a few years ago was: ‘If you want a job, take it. If not, I will find someone else who will want to do it.’ But firms cannot afford to do this now,” Richmon Ng, senior manager of Yang Seng Engineering, told ST.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has attempted to salvage the manpower shortage by recruiting workers from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. However, 10 firms ST spoke to believe a higher pay is still the best solution for the labour shortage, as employers want to retain experienced workers who are more productive and require less supervision.

Additionally, it would cost less to maintain experienced workers who have gone for training courses and tests offered by BCA.

Employers only need to pay monthly levies of $300 or $600 (depending if they are eligible for MYE, or Man-Year Entitlement) for higher skilled workers, while basic-skilled workers who are new to Singapore and have not gone for any training courses would set them back $450 or $750.

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