Singapore's construction, marine and process sectors piloting tightened process to bring in foreign workforce

Published Wed, Jul 7, 2021 · 02:37 PM

THE construction, marine and process (CMP) sectors have begun piloting a programme that will allow foreign workers to be brought into Singapore to address the manpower crunch issue, while mitigating the public health risk associated with the entry of such workers.

Beginning this month, workers from India will be brought in via the pilot programme, which has already been trialled on workers from Malaysia, said the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL), Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) and the Association of Process Industry (ASPRI) in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The associations told The Business Times that the programme began in June, and that "a few hundreds were brought in, but are done in batches".

The programme aims to integrate the overseas training, testing and on-boarding process with Singapore's on-arrival testing and stay-home notice (SHN) protocol, noted the statement.

It added: "The end-to-end process focuses on proactive testing of the workers through a Covid-19 testing regime over a 14-day period at specified on-boarding facilities at (their) source country before departure for Singapore. Upon arriving in Singapore, workers will be subject to the prevailing SHN (Stay Home Notice) health protocols and safe-management measures."

Thus far, there have been no incidence of Covid-19 cases in the first few batches of workers from Malaysia.

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"We will continue to carry this out on a small scale and calibrated manner, to better manage the risks involved and validate the robustness of the tightened end-to-end process," noted the associations; they added that  "if successful, this model will be used to facilitate a steady inflow of workers in a safe and secure manner".

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on resources within the CMP sectors, as border closures have halted the steady inflow of migrant workers.

Since the end of 2019, the number of work permit holders in these sectors has declined by more than 15 per cent, equating to more than 60,000 workers, said the statement.

It added: "This has resulted in project delays and significant labour cost increase, which in turn affect the viability of the business.

"Besides a delay on housing and infrastructure projects which have implications on homeowners and Singaporeans, there are implications on Singapore's global competitiveness, credibility of our business and locals employed in these sectors when projects are not delivered on time or terminated."

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