SINGAPORE: Despite the economic headwind and global uncertainties, construction demand in Singapore is expected to remain strong this year, said Minister for State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad on Wednesday (Jan 8).
This follows a record year for the construction sector.
Construction demand hit a five year high in 2019, with an estimated S$33.4 billion worth of projects awarded, according to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), higher than its top end projection of S$32 billion.
"(This) represents a 9.5 per cent increase in construction demand compared to the year before," said Mr Zaqy.
New petrochemical facilities and continued demand from residential en-bloc developments boosted private sector demand, while industrial and building projects in the Punggol Digital District contributed to public sector demand, he said.
For this year, BCA estimated that between S$28 billion and S$33 billion worth of contracts will be awarded.
Public sector projects are expected to account for 60 per cent of overall demand, said Mr Zaqy at the BCA-REDAS Built Environment and Property Prospects Seminar.
Between S$17.5 billion and S$20.5 billion worth of public sector contracts are expected to be awarded this year, said BCA.
Private sector demand is expected to be between S$10.5 billion and S$12.5 billion.
"Beyond 2020, we foresee construction demand to strengthen further," said Mr Zaqy.
Construction demand is expected to be between S$27 billion and S$34 billion per year for 2021 and 2022, and between S$28 billion and S$35 billion per year for 2023 and 2024.
"This growth will be supported by major developments such as Changi Airport Terminal 5, developments at Jurong Lake District, the expansion of the two Integrated Resorts at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa and new MRT lines such as the Cross Island Line," he said.
CREATING BETTER JOBS
It is important that the construction sector continues to be driven by a skilled and capable Singapore core, Mr Zaqy said.
But he noted that in the past decade, the proportion of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) jobs in the industry taken up by locals has fallen.
"Compared to manufacturing, services, banking and technology, many locals opted to join sectors with better working environments and less manual work.
"Using traditional design and construction methods, employers could readily find less-skilled, lower-cost foreign workers to fulfil the jobs within the industry," he said.
Efforts are being made by the Government and BCA to address this, he added.
"At the PMET level, we have created many new and attractive jobs through the transformation of the industry," he said.
BCA is also looking to attract local graduates through scholarships and work-study programmes.
For mid-career professionals, there is the Building Information Modelling Professional Conversion Programme that trains these professionals to work as Building Information Modelling professionals in the built environment sector.