SINGAPORE: There needs to be 1,000 more technicians in the next three years to help meet the demands to maintain and service lifts and escalators, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Monday (Feb 13) aims to help alleviate the manpower shortage.
BCA said there are currently more than 2,000 technicians maintaining about 63,000 lifts and 6,000 escalators, but more are needed.
This was highlighted by Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee on Monday, who said that as Singapore's built environment continues to transform, there will be more opportunities for skilled engineers and technicians.
"As buildings become taller and more densely utilised, it is critical for us to ensure high standards in lift and escalator safety. Older lifts and escalators will need to be modernised with up-to-date safety features. So there will be an increasing need for skilled engineers and technicians," Mr Lee said at the BCA-Industry Built Environment ITE Scholarship award ceremony.
RISING PRESSURE TO DEVELOP MANPOWER
On the same day, BCA and industry partners also signed an MOU to ensure that the sector continues to offer attractive and relevant jobs, with companies signing on committing to attract locals into the sector by supporting scholarship and sponsorship programmes.
The need to develop manpower in Singapore has been growing. Mr Sugumaran N Pillai, president of the Singapore Lift and Escalator Contractors and Manufacturers Association, said: "Majority of the existing people are getting old so we need replacements for these people. So it's two aspects: One is to get replacements for the existing people, the other is to bring in more people for the long term."
However, Mr Lim Teck Lee, deputy principal in academic at ITE College East, said the lack of prospects in the lift and escalator industry continues to turn away students from pursuing a career in it.
"For ITE, our graduates are currently averaging S$1,900 per month. In the lift and escalator industry, on average, our students' starting salary is about S$1,200 to S$1,500. This is an area that can be improved on," said Mr Lim.
Industry insiders had earlier given their views on difficulties in attracting talent into the sector, citing a lack of interest in the job.
Ms Mary Kok, head of Mitsubishi Elevator Singapore’s Human Resource and Admin Division, had said that not many people are interested in this line of work, and it is also competing with other industries such as engineering, building services and transportation for local talent.
This comes amid a tightening of regulations on lift maintenance, as announced by BCA last June, after a string of lift-related incidents that happened that saw a 59-year-old woman injuring her spine and an elderly man who died from a fall when a lift stopped above the ground, causing his wheelchair to topple.