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First 15 Filipino construction workers due in Singapore in March

The first group of 15 construction workers from the Philippines is expected to arrive in Singapore in March. These workers obtained their skills certification after completing training and tests at the new Overseas Testing Centre (OTC) in the Philippines.

SINGAPORE: The first group of 15 construction workers from the Philippines is expected to arrive in Singapore next month.

These workers obtained their skills certification after completing training and tests at the new Overseas Testing Centre (OTC) in the Philippines.

Singapore targets to bring in some 200 Filipino construction workers a month when all four testing centres are operational by the middle of this year.

Last September, the first group of 20 construction workers from Sri Lanka arrived in Singapore.

Sri Lanka and Philippines are new sources of foreign workers to help Singapore cope with the construction boom.

The OTC located in Manila is Singapore's latest. It is operated by Santarli Construction and it is the first OTC to be set up there.

Approval was granted last year for Singapore companies to recruit Filipino construction workers, and response has been good.

Andrew Seet, director of Santarli Construction, said: "The Filipinos view this as a very positive opportunity to find employment in Singapore. They have got very good feedback from those who have worked in Singapore.

"Previously, there was no avenue for such group of workers to find employment in Singapore. So, when they hear that Singapore companies are setting up an OTC in Philippines, they are quite eager to quickly register and be trained and get certification from BCA (Building and Construction Authority) in order to work in Singapore."

Filipinos aiming to work in Singapore must undergo two months of training before they can take the test.

The new centre conduct tests in six trades, including tiling and electrical wiring installation.

Singapore is keen on hiring construction workers from the Philippines because they are seen as more skilled.

In addition, they generally speak good English and this helps them to better adapt in Singapore.

Neo Choon Keong, BCA group director (manpower & strategies), said: "In fact, from the data we have seen, a majority of them have high school, if not, vocational certificate. So, they are highly educated, and they also have prior experience.

"So, they will not come cheap. They will command a better salary, but in return they are better skilled, they are more productive. So, this is something we have to leave it to the market to decide - the actual numbers that (employers) are prepared to bring in."

Filipino workers can expect a salary of about $800 per month or $30 a day.

They will complement the current construction workers in Singapore, who are mainly from China, India and Bangladesh.

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