Tackling the Labour Shortage in Construction

ManagementMay 11, 2023 10:00

Construction Industry Outlook 2023

No other sector was as badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as the construction sector! Due to the Circuit Breaker which occurred from April to June 2020, most construction work was suspended for several months. It had a knock-on effect on construction project timelines, with more than 90 percent of Build-To-Order (BTO) projects delayed beyond their estimated completion date in 2021.

Productivity decreased as a result of Covid-19 safe management measures—migrant workers had to take Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Tests regularly and serve quarantine periods. What’s more, prices of construction commodities soared to record high levels! Therefore, there was a significant spike in business costs for local construction companies.

As Singapore enters into an endemic new normal in 2023, the construction industry is steadily recovering. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) forecasts that the total construction demand this year will range between S$27 billion and S$32 billion.

Even though the private sector’s construction demand dipped slightly from S$12.1b in 2021 to S$11.9b in 2022 amidst inflationary concerns, there is still a healthy demand for private residential and industrial building developments.

And yet, the severe labour shortage remains a thorny issue which construction firms have to address. According to job vacancy data released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), almost one position remains unfilled for every labourer hired in the construction sector. Here are 3 tips to help your company tackle the ongoing labour crunch:

1. Embrace Innovation

It would be good for your company to implement innovative construction methods. One prime example of such construction methods is the Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC).

With PPVC, you can create free-standing 3-dimensional modules with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings in an off-site fabrication facility—before delivering and installing them on-site. PPVC can reduce the amount of labour required to complete some work elements by up to 50%. On top of that, it may improve the quality of the final build in certain cases.

Your company can defray the costs of innovation by applying for the Productivity Innovation Project (PIP)! A firm supporter of business transformation, the Singapore government provides up to 70% co-funding for the costs of adopting these technologies.

2. Reskill Your Workforce

While technology adoption can ease your manpower requirements, it does not obviate your need for skilled workers at the construction site. What you can do is to train your employees in a secondary trade. For instance, bricklayers can potentially be trained to lay tiles as well.

This is in accordance with BCA’s “Multi Skilling Scheme” as part of their Construction Productivity Roadmap. The aim of this scheme is to create multi-skilled tradesmen—as opposed to labourers who specialise in one particular trade.

By having more multi-skilled employees, your company can fully optimise the available manpower resources. The number of labourers required onsite will be reduced due to enhanced mobilisation.

3. Partner With Recruitment Agencies

Have you been struggling to source for highly qualified candidates on your own? Your mid to senior level construction roles can remain unfilled for many months, thus causing critical manpower gaps. It is essential that your company ties up with Recruitment Agencies like Reeracoen, who has over 11 years of professional recruitment experience.

Our Recruitment Consultants are well-equipped to meet the specific requirements of our clients in the construction industry. Whether you’re looking for Structural Engineers, Quantity Surveyors or Construction Managers, Reeracoen can help you!


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