Singapore will soon see its first group of construction workers from Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Those from Sri Lanka are expected to start work in September this year, and those from the Philippines a month later, Channel News Asia reported.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said that for a start, Singapore is bringing in about 200 Sri Lankan and 200 Filipino workers a month.
Four Overseas Training Centres in Sri Lanka and another four in the Philippines have been given approval from the relevant authorities to train and recruit the workers.
The training centres are operated by six Singapore construction companies.
Sri Lanka and the Philippines have been identified as new sources of foreign workers to cope with the construction boom in Singapore.
Tiong Aik Construction runs a training and testing centre for foreign construction workers in Singapore.
It is also one of four construction companies that will be operating a training centre in Manila.
The company received the green light from the Philippine government in April this year.
Training centres are being set up to prepare skilled Filipino construction workers before they can start work in Singapore.
A significant number of them are skilled workers after gaining experience from working in the Middle East.
Marketing campaigns have begun, but there has been some resistance.
Mr Neo Tiam Boon, CEO and Executive director of Tiong Aik Corporation, said: “They feel that look I have five to 10 years of experience. I’m very skilled why should I comply, but the fact is there is a requirement in Singapore. You have no choice but to comply. So we will do a basic training for them, what we call the SECK (Skills Evaluation Certification Knowledge) to comply with the BCA requirements before they could be brought into Singapore.”
Mr Neo Choon Keong, “group Director of Manpower and Strategies Policy at BCA, said: “Even though they are actually experienced, there are differences in terms of the work methods, the work processes, or even the work standards because our home owners and users are generally more demanding. It also allow us to in a way to verify indeed they have the required test standards because if we don’t have a third party verification we can’t ascertain what kind of skill level they possess because we just can’t look at their declared experience.”
The training period for Filipino and Sri Lankan construction workers will be shorter than for most others because of their skill and work experience.
They will go through two months of training. Unskilled workers usually have to undergo up to six months of training.
Their pay is also expected to be higher. They may also get more than what they used to receive when working in the Middle East.)
Mr Neo Choon Keong added: “If the Filipino workers are indeed skilled and experience, they should command a much higher pay compared to the Indian and Bangladeshi workers. Just to give some sense, the Indian and Bangladeshi new workers usually command about S$18 to S$20 basic pay a day. So, I think for the Philippine (workers) they should be able to command between S$20 to S$30 because the China workers are commanding higher than S$30 per day as they are even more skilled.”
BCA believes market forces will ensure fair wages for workers from the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It is also confident that these workers will be in good demand.
There are more than 270,000 construction workers in Singapore, most of them from China and India.
Besides the eight Overseas Training Centres in Sri Lanka and Philippines, BCA will be building two more, one each in India and China by next year.