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Productivity gains in Singapore's construction sector fall short of government's target: Minister

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PRODUCTIVITY in Singapore's construction sector has seen some improvements but it remains short of the government's target, Grace Fu, Minister in Prime Minister Office said on Tuesday. - PHOTO: SPH

PRODUCTIVITY in Singapore's construction sector has seen some improvements but it remains short of the government's target, Grace Fu, Minister in Prime Minister Office said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the opening of the Singapore Construction Productivity Week, Ms Fu said steps to improve productivity and cut reliance on foreign labour have seen worksite productivity - as measured as the total floor area constructed per man day - improved by about 1.2 per cent per annum from 2010-2013. But this is still short of the target improvement of 2 to 3 per cent per annum.

Nevertheless, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is working on the second Construction Productivity Roadmap to bring the sector's productivity drive to the next level. Details of the roadmap will be released next year.

Ms Fu said the government will lend support to the transformation of the sector through funding and by building the expertise needed for the widespread adoption of game-changing and productive construction technologies.

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Ms Fu, who is also the Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, cited three areas the sector needs to focus on to boost productivity. These are: 1) making prefabrication more prevalent; (2) raising the skills level and (3) further integration along the construction value chain.

"Prefab volumetric building solutions enable a quantum leap in productivity," she said, adding that manpower and time savings of potentially up to 50 per cent can be achieved.

To further stimulate demand for such game-changing technologies, selected Government Land Sales sites to be released later this year will require the use of such technologies.

BCA will also work with public agencies to identify suitable projects to adopt game-changing technologies. It will also assist by giving grants of up to S$5 million per application of the Productivity Improvement Project (or PIP) scheme to private sector developments for the adoption of such technologies.

"In the next five years, we hope to build a strong lead demand by having 40 to 50 projects adopt such technologies," Ms Fu said.

She added that the government will allocate an additional S$55 million to the Construction Productivity and Capability Fund (CPCF), bringing the total funding to S$335 million.

On the need to raise worker's skills, BCA is in discussion with the industry on additional measures to help firms send more workers for training and upgrading, including funding support for training, and attracting locals to enter the workforce to lead the industry transformation.

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