SINGAPORE: Pest management firms are now able to tap on digital solutions under a plan that was previously open to cleaning and waste management companies.
The Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan has been updated to include the pest management sub-sector, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced on Thursday (Apr 22).
In addition, new digital solutions for the whole industry have also been included in the plan, said NEA and IMDA in a press release.
"These enable the environmental services industry as a whole to look forward to a more employable workforce, such as preparing multi-skilled professionals who can move across various sub-sectors," said the two agencies.
"Businesses can also synergise cleaning, waste management and pest management services to reap greater efficiency and productivity."
NEA and IMDA noted that there are "challenges" across the cleaning, waste management and pest management sub-sectors, with companies needing to "constantly improve" the way they work and deliver services.
At the same time, the demand and expectations of these environmental services will continue to rise, they noted.
"Transforming the industry to be more productive is therefore critical to ensuring continued delivery of environmental services to provide a clean, liveable and sustainable environment in Singapore," said the press release.
The refreshed industry digital plan aims to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) address these challenges, said NEA and IMDA.
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ROBOTICS AND AUGMENTED REALITY
Digital solutions incorporating newer and more advanced technologies such as robotics, augmented and virtual reality as well as blockchain have been included in the plan, as their commercial applications are now "more mature and readily accessible".
SMEs can tap on the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for the environmental services industry to adopt pre-approved digital solutions recommended in the industry digital plan.
Under the PSG for the industry, 46 equipment and pre-approved solutions are supportable as of January this year. More equipment and pre-approved solutions will be progressively added, said NEA and IMDA.
Using the PSG, eligible environmental services companies can be supported with up to 80 per cent of the qualifying cost, capped at S$350,000, until Sep 30 this year.
As of Apr 4, 1,515 PSG applications have been approved for 518 environmental services companies and about S$36 million of the PSG has been committed.
Speaking to the media during a visit to Industrial and Commercial Facilities Management on Thursday, Senior Minister of State for the Environment Dr Amy Khor said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for the environmental services industry to change.
The local firm provides a range of services including cleaning and disinfection, as well as pest control.
"COVID-19 has heightened public awareness about the critical role of environmental services in safeguarding public health, and in fact has accelerated the need for the environmental services industry to transform," said Dr Khor.
"With the increasing demands and expectations for environmental services, the industry has to press on with these efforts to adopt technology and digital solutions in order to address the manpower challenges that they face, as well as to streamline operations on the ground."
The Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan was launched in 2018 and forms part of IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme that aims to make going digital simple for SMEs.
It contains a three-stage digital roadmap, which charts out the digital solutions that SMEs can adopt at each stage of their growth.
Also within the industry plan is a digital roadmap on training which includes various courses available for companies to equip their employees with the relevant skills and knowledge.
This includes the "Introduction to Digital Technology in Environment Services" course offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), as well as Ngee Ann Polytechnic's course on Digitalising Environmental Services. To date, about 200 people have attended both courses.
Dr Khor said digital solutions can be helpful, citing the example of robots that can perform routine cleaning jobs, freeing workers to focus on more important tasks.
"We really want to encourage the companies to come on board. And in fact, when the companies adopt digital solutions as well as technology, both the company as well as the workers benefit," added Dr Khor.
"And NEA will continue to work with the partners as well as the ES trade associations to support these ES companies in their digital transformation journey, and help them to build a resilient and future-ready workforce."