The Real Estate and Construction Centre/Academy, with the support of NTUC and the Environmental Management Association of Singapore, has been embarking on a job clustering programme (which we term job redesign) since 2007.
It combined building custodial services (cleaning, landscape, pest control and security) tasks with facilities maintenance tasks. The objectives at workforce level were to create a value-added productive custodial worker and give an ageing custodial workforce an avenue to continue to work in a less physically demanding redesigned job.
The job redesign approach recognises that a worker will continue to undertake his main task (such as cleaning) and an added-on task (such as minor repairs) which can be incorporated through job rotation and/or an added-on task (such as custodial checking: sighting and flagging of building defects and safety and environmental issues) which can be done in parallel with the main task.
This way, the industry benefits as well in lower maintenance costs as defects are spotted and attended to earlier and in a safer built environment with the additional custodial checking on the ground.
More than 500 building custodians and more than 100 custodial checkers have been trained and deployed since. The success and sustainability of such an initiative depends on the worker's readiness to acquire the new skills and service buyers' appreciation and payment for the additional services which contribute to increased salaries for the worker.
It is hoped that the current interest in job clustering will create further impetus in job redesign for productivity gains with a complementary programme to engage service buyers.
Quah Lee Kiang (Dr)
Real Estate and Construction Centre/Academy