SINGAPORE - From robot cleaners to kitchen sinks that turn food waste into fertiliser, the environmental services industry has been evolving to tackle challenges like manpower constraints.
While enterprise transformation can be driven by technology, it should always remain people-led, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said on Thursday (Aug 22) at the launch of a training academy by cleaning and maintenance services provider WIS Holdings.
"We need to look at how technology augments workers by simplifying certain functions they perform or giving them a boost in productivity," he noted.
"This includes technology and equipment which can reduce the physical demands on human workers, which will allow older workers to continue working longer if they wish to do so."
Mr Chee said workers, on their part, should also embrace lifelong learning and continual skills upgrading to ensure that they are able to handle new equipment and make good use of new technologies.
The sector employs more than 78,000 cleaning and waste management professionals across more than 1,700 companies.
WIS Holdings, which has around 4,000 employees in Singapore, is working with Workforce Singapore to get its in-house training accredited under the Workforce Skills Qualifications system so that other companies may also benefit from training at the academy, said Mr Chee.
A number of initiatives have been introduced under the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, which will see 30,000 people in the environmental services sector have higher-skilled jobs by 2025.
Mr Chee said initiatives like the WIS Holdings Training Academy could help attract more Singaporeans to join the industry, especially for areas like environmental services which face manpower constraints.
On Thursday, the firm also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to set up a company training committee.
The MOU is with the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the National University of Singapore School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (Scale).
The committee will help WIS Holdings develop the enhanced technical competencies of its workers, through in-house and customised training, to equip them for the transformed jobs in the industry, the firm said.
It will comprise representatives from the firm and supporting partners including Scale and e2i.
Mr Chee noted that the WIS Holdings committee contributes to NTUC's goal of having 1,000 such committees across the different sectors over the next three years. There have been more than 50 committees set up to date.
These committees allow unions and employers to identify courses and customise training so that workers can develop relevant skills for jobs.