Jobs in built environment should be redesigned to attract young talent, study finds

The joint study will serve as a guide to attract and retain talent in the sector. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Jobs in the built environment sector should be redesigned to offer better career progression, working conditions and work-life balance in order to attract talent, according to an ongoing study by Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Ernst & Young.

Jobs must also be redesigned to achieve greater productivity to meet the demands of the sector under the long-term industry transformation map, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How on Thursday.

The joint study, slated for completion by the fourth quarter of this year, will serve as a guide to attract and retain talent in the sector.

Speaking at the International Built Environment Week 2022, which is held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Mr Tan said some of the aspirations expressed by industry players include wanting more recognition for built environment professionals, along with better work-life balance, salaries and career progression.

"Unfortunately, the built environment sector is not often seen as the most appealing sector for job seekers, especially younger ones," said Mr Tan.

However, the BCA and industry partners have been making efforts to highlight attractive professions in the sector and celebrate firms for their good human resource practices and organisational development.

For instance, 17 built environment firms including Arup, CapitaLand, CDL and KTC were on the list of Singapore's Best Employers this year in a study by The Straits Times, said Mr Tan.

"These efforts will take time to bear fruit but I hope the perception of this sector as demanding, dangerous and dirty will be changed to one that is productive, professional and progressive," added Mr Tan.

Employees also have to continually refresh their skill sets as the industry evolves.

Some of the skills in increasing demand by built environment firms include computational design, programming and coding, said Mr Tan.

While the industry seeks to bring in new blood, mid-career professionals are not left behind as close to 200 individuals have tapped Workforce Singapore's career conversion programmes since 2018 to acquire new skill sets, added Mr Tan.

Close partnerships between institutes of higher learning and firms are crucial to ensure a pipeline of young talent for the sector.

This is the case for building firm Keong Hong Construction, which has been actively offering traineeships and subsequent full-time employment to (ITE) students.

Keong Hong Construction executive director Er Ang Hooa said investing in young local talent is key to renewing his staff, some of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years.

"Young people are enthusiastic and keen to learn when they join us. As a company, we must do our part to incentivise them to stay long term by crafting out a proper career path for them so they have a sense of purpose and belonging," said Mr Er.

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