Two new initiatives for Singapore’s built environment sector

The Singapore government has introduced the Built Environment Living Lab Framework (BE LLF) to facilitate test-bedding of innovative proposals in urban spaces and living environment, such as at Punggol Town and Jurong Lake Gardens. This initiative was officially launched on 29 September by Singapore’s Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and in the Ministry of National Development, Tan Kiat How.

Speaking at ‘CEOs in Conversation’, the final plenary of the International Built Environment Week (IBEW) 2020, Mr Tan also announced the Skills Framework for Built Environment (BE), which aims to provide a common skills language for stakeholders in the sector. This initiative encapsulates comprehensive information about the BE sector, career pathways, occupations and job roles, skills and competencies required for each job role, as well as a list of training programmes available to help facilitate skills upgrading and mastery.

Mr Tan highlighted that while almost all construction projects in Singapore have resumed, all stakeholders must stay united and vigilant in efforts to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 infections. He stressed the need to reduce the sector’s reliance on a large foreign workforce in order to build greater resilience against future disruptions, adding that greater adoption of technology and innovation would help accelerate the sector’s transformation efforts, while at the same time creating higher skilled and better jobs in the sector.

Built Environment Living Lab Framework

The BE LLF allows firms in Singapore to test out new, innovative solutions that could benefit the local built environment sector. Interested parties can submit their proposals to the Built Environment Technology Alliance (BETA), which will be the ‘one-stop’ shop to manage all test-bedding proposals.

Good proposals with innovative solutions and ready for deployment will be expedited for test-bedding in living spaces, where possible. To provide firms with greater confidence to innovate, the government will support firms to navigate regulatory clearance processes and, where necessary, introduce a ‘regulatory sandbox’ for proposals that may not be allowed under current regulations.

“BETA helps bring industry stakeholders together to catalyse industry-led innovation and commercialisation of technology solutions. This will provide opportunities for our firms to increase their competitive advantage by translating their technology and innovation investments into enterprise-level capabilities,” explained Mr Tan.

“Despite the outbreak of Covid-19, BETA has managed to engage over 30 firms, Institutes of Higher Learning and agencies. There are promising discussions with local companies like Pan United, Certis and Sembcorp Development to collaborate on advanced construction materials and digital initiatives. We hope to kick start these projects soon.”

Skills Framework for Built Environment

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) have worked closely with trade associations and chambers (TACs), unions, professional boards, employers and educational institutions, to develop the Skills Framework for Built Environment.

“Transformation of the BE sector must be underpinned by a competent and skilled workforce,” stressed Mr Tan. “Industry transformation will create new job opportunities, but will also require some existing job roles to be redesigned to keep up with evolving trends. Hence, it is critical to ensure that our workers are equipped with the right skills and training to harness these new technologies in their work.”

The Skills Framework for Built Environment covers 49 job roles in the BE sector, across eight career tracks such as architectural consultancy and design, engineering consultancy and design, and quantity surveying. It helps BE companies and existing professionals as well as prospective new employees to the sector identify career progression pathways and the skills needed to stay relevant, especially for new jobs arising from industry transformation that require new skills.

For example, an individual interested in joining the sector as a digital delivery professional could use the framework to determine the skills and courses he or she needs for the job role. Another example is existing employees using the framework to understand the skills and training needed to upskill in digitalisation. BE firms can improve their capabilities and HR practices by taking reference from the Skills Framework for their recruitment and talent management strategies, as well as to provide more career advancement opportunities based on the skills and competencies of their employees.

The Skills Framework identifies 163 existing and emerging technical skills and competencies to capture the evolving technology and industry trends, and its impact on jobs and skills in the sector. Education and training providers can use the framework to curate programmes that are aligned to the needs of the industry. For example, BCA Academy’s Diploma (Conversion) in Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) course under the SGUnited Skills programme can help jobseekers prepare for the role of specialist (digital delivery) as defined in the framework, or help existing BE professionals to upskill their knowledge in IDD.

According to BCA, there are existing training programmes and upcoming new programmes that support industry transformation skills. A full list of training programmes with skills mapping will be ready by end 2020.

The government is also working with relevant TACs to establish various accreditation schemes that align with the Skills Framework, said BCA. Moving forward, the Skills Framework and accreditation schemes can help employers and industry partners to better differentiate and identify individuals with the relevant skill sets when procuring BE services. More details will be made available when ready.

Hugh Lim, CEO of BCA said, “We have seen the benefits of technology adoption and innovation in overcoming some of the challenges posed by Covid-19. Our firms must continue to embrace new innovations to remain competitive, and deal with challenges posed by Covid-19. As part of our industry transformation efforts for the built environment, we have been placing close attention and focus on ensuring good and meaningful jobs for Singaporeans.

“The Skills Framework for Built Environment will support our collective desire to have a skilled and progressive workforce, to support our shared ambitions for the sector. Through industry transformation and innovation, anchored by a dedicated and capable core of Singaporeans, we will be able to overcome the current challenges and emerge stronger together.”

More details on the BE LLF and to submit a proposal to BETA, click here.
More details on the Skills Framework for Built Environment, click here.