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-37 minute read

Built Environment Sector: Tech and New Innovations are Changing the Outlook for Jobs

Built environment roles are being redesigned. Learn the latest on what this means for skills and jobs in the sector.

About Singapore’s built environment sector

Singapore’s built environment (BE) sector is undergoing a period of major transformation and change. With new technologies shifting work away from labour-intensive processes, the transformation possibilities are immense.

For example, architects can make use of Building Information Models (BIM) to speed up and help the design process. Quantity surveyors can use those same digital models to estimate their material needs easily. With Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) tech, builders and construction can prefabricate components and even entire rooms from these plans.

For facility and security managers, the stream of new Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI), means productivity and resource savings.

But of course, all these various facets are intertwined, and their transformation works hand-in-hand. If buildings and infrastructure are not designed with the goal of being upgraded with IoT sensors and robotics, facility managers would be hard-pressed to integrate them to manage our buildings, for example.

As such, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee shared at the opening ceremony of the International Built Environment Week 2023: “This whole-of-sector transformation is what we had in mind when we worked closely with industry researchers to put together the Built Environment Industry Transformation Map, which was launched at IBEW last year.”

“We worked with our industry partners to set out an ambitious goal of transforming the entire building lifecycle by harnessing emerging technologies and innovations to drive collaboration across various project parties.”

“Ultimately, our goal is to grow a BE sector that can build what we envision for our future Singapore and seize opportunities around the world!”

Looking for a new role? Explore over 100,000 jobs available on MyCareersFuture now!

Size of the job market

Singapore’s built environment market comprises the construction, real estate, security and environmental services sectors.

It reached S$29.8 million in market size in 2022 and is expected to grow rapidly as more public housing projects are planned in Singapore.

According to the Ministry of Education, there are  over 18,000 enterprises in Singapore in the built environment sector contributing to public and private infrastructure projects, such as public housing projects, industrial buildings and MRT line construction.

Why is this sector important to Singapore’s economy?

There are several major infrastructure projects ongoing in Singapore, including the:

  • Changi Airport Terminal 5
  • Jurong Region Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line
  • Cross Island MRT line
  • North-South Corridor
  • Integrated Waste Management Facility

As the industry continues to evolve, the ability to keep pace with trends and embrace new technologies will be crucial for both individuals and organisations in the BE sector, in order to remain competitive and contribute to Singapore’s sustainable urban development goals.

Growth areas and outlook for the built environment sector

The built environment sector in Singapore is experiencing the influence of several significant megatrends and technological advancements.

Amongst the five main megatrends (i.e. global shifts that change and impact the way the economy, business and people live and work) — COVID-19, Multi-Skilling, Sustainable Construction/Buildings, Value Chain Aggregation and Integration, and Workforce Challenges — COVID-19 has had a significant impact in the BE sector.

The global pandemic has caused disruptions in both manpower and supply chains, resulting in project delays and increased costs due to resource scarcity. As the world recovers from COVID-19, there is a growing emphasis on digitalisation and remote working, with concerns around sustained productivity and work-life balance becoming more prominent.

Another important megatrend is the focus on multi-skilling within the sector. With the rise of digitalisation, professionals are increasingly required to possess cross-domain knowledge and diverse skills to remain relevant in their roles.

This includes multi-skilling in areas such as digitalisation, finance and contract management, as well as adjacent functions within and outside the BE sector, such as sustainability.

Acquiring these cross-functional skills is seen as a key priority to enhance employability and adapt to evolving job requirements.

Sustainability is another prominent megatrend shaping the BE sector.

Singapore is committed to achieving sustainable development goals, and as a result, green building practices, renewable energy sources, energy-efficient technologies, and environmentally friendly construction materials are being widely adopted.

There are several technology trends playing a crucial role in the transformation of the BE sector in Singapore, impacting it in the short term.

What courses or skills are needed to join the built environment sector?

According to the Jobs Transformation Map (JTM) for the built environment sector done by Ernst & Young that was commissioned by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), in collaboration with Workforce Singapore (WSG), one job role has been identified as being highly impacted across 48 job roles. As such, it is expected to experience a high degree of change in job tasks and requires major job redesign.

Also, 34 job roles will experience a medium degree of change in job tasks and may require moderate redesign.

Additionally, 13 job roles have also been identified to be emerging in the sector as an outcome of digitalisation and sustainability-related trends. These include jobs such as architectural technologist and facility management data analyst.

Here are some of the findings for the types of jobs that will be impacted, and the new skills required:

Architectural Consultancy and Design

  • This function may be expected to lead sector-wide change by driving the adoption of latest trends from the design phase.
  • In the short-term, technology may augment existing architectural tasks. Architectural professionals will need to focus on leveraging data insights to value-add to the design work, in generating designs that adhere to regulations and requirements in an increasingly efficient manner.
  • Digital tools and platforms, e.g., BIM Technology, may grow increasingly to be used as a common platform for professionals in the value chain, integrating workflows across the entire process from design, modelling, coordination and documentation. This can enable greater collaboration between architectural professionals and builders, easing the documentation and handover process.

Engineering Consultancy and Design

  • In the short-term, the function may see a shift towards hybrid arrangements of site activities, i.e. mixture of onsite and offsite activities, enabled by the adoption of technologies that facilitate such arrangements.
  • To meet future task demands, engineering professionals will need to upskill in the effective operation of these technologies.
  • Technology may enable greater automation and acceleration of engineering processes. As a result, engineering professionals will need to upskill to interpret and utilise data effectively in developing data-driven engineering designs that adhere to regulatory requirements and enhance the robustness of feasibility studies conducted.

Quantity Surveying

  • A higher-than-average proportion of tasks is expected to be automated by technology. To add value, the function may need to place greater emphasis on advisory services to drive cost efficiency and competitiveness.
  • In the short-term, the trend of Sustainable Construction/Building is expected to see a significant rise in demand. As a result, quantity surveying professionals may see an increasing need to acquire and apply relevant knowledge, e.g. carbon costing to ensure holistic life cycle costing of buildings.
  • With Blockchain potentially seeing an increased adoption in tendering, contracting and procurement processes, quantity surveying professionals will need familiarity with the technology to perform smart contracting tasks in the long-term.

Construction Management (Production)

  • The function may see greater emphasis placed on DfMA in the short-term, as modular construction, innovative building materials, and 3D printing become increasingly integrated into production processes.
  • Hybrid forms of work may see an increase in adoption amidst COVID-19. As a result, professionals in this track may need to upskill in proficiencies with operating remote monitoring tools to conduct virtual and remote supervision of factory works.
  • Production processes may be automated or accelerated by technology. Professionals in this track may need to develop an understanding of and application of technology to effectively monitor and intervene in production where required.

Mid-career switch: Why is the Built Environment sector a good choice?

Beyond impacting current jobs in the sector, megatrends and technology trends also impact the creation and evolution of new job roles within the sector. Through research and stakeholder engagements, 13 emerging job roles have been identified within the built environment sector, across two key categories:

Digital-related roles

Digital job roles are likely to arise as the sector looks towards greater technology adoption and digitalisation, with job holders specialising in digital skill sets required for the job role (e.g. computational design, robotics), and may be responsible for identification and integration of digitalisation opportunities within the sector and across the value chain.

Technical skills and knowledge will still be needed for these job roles to effectively apply and integrate digitalisation opportunities into operations, i.e. configuring digital systems for buildings, applying digital tools and platforms in architectural drawings.

Job holders will be expected to be specialists in their skill sets, i.e., facility management data analysts would be responsible for data gathering, processing and analysis for facility operation-related data.

In the long-run, job roles across the sector would be expected to have certain levels of competence in digital fluency, such as the use of digital tools and platforms (e.g., BIM) and interpreting data visualisations.

In the short-term, some of these job roles may be filled by new entrants/mid-career entrants who possess strong digital expertise, but would require close collaboration and partnership with existing personnel who are technically strong to enable application to the work.

In the long run, these job roles should ideally be anchored by individuals with an understanding of the BE sector and the associated technical knowledge, as well as have the complementary digital skill sets to enhance the work delivered.


Sustainability job roles are likely to emerge and evolve from traditional BE roles, as sustainability concepts are incorporated across functional tracks, instead of building specialised sustainability teams.

Technical skills and knowledge will still be needed for these job roles, with job holders applying sustainability concepts in the lifecycle of the overall value chain.

However, new sustainability integrator roles may emerge, where the job holder coordinates sustainability processes and initiatives in projects.

In the future, sustainability knowledge may become a requirement across the sector, as the workforce needs to embrace sustainability as a mindset instead of a skillset, thereby forming part of every job role’s core skillset.

An alternative view held is that it may be better to tap into the existing environmental and sustainability sector’s capabilities through collaboration, instead of building environmental and sustainability capabilities in-house, as companies may struggle with the significant investment required otherwise.

What’s the salary like in the built environment sector?

Jobs in the built environment sector cover a broad spectrum of roles, and salaries do vary depending on the specific job function, level of experience, and qualifications.

Here are some examples listed on the MyCareersFuture portal:

Role Salary Range (Monthly)
Senior Officers in Built Environment with Mechanical Engineering $8,000 to $10,000
Quantity Surveyor $3,100 to $5,500
Building Construction Supervisor and General Foreman $3,200 to $4,200
Green Mark Assessor, Sustainable Building Lifestyle Specialist $7,000 to $7,700
Building Facilities Officer $2,200 to $4,000
Project QS Coordinator $2,800 to $4,000
Technical Executive/Draftsperson $3,000 to $5,000
Piping Supervisor $3,800 to $4,500
Mechanical Engineer $4,000 to $5,000
Lead/Senior Sustainability Consultant $5,800 to $9,000

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Types of jobs in the built environment sector

Here’s a list of emerging job roles according to the level of reskilling needs, according to BCA’s JTM:

Moderate reskilling needed

  • Architectural Technologist
  • Climate-change Response Engineer
  • Solar Engineer
  • Facility Management Data Analyst
  • Digital FM/Engineering Specialists
  • Sustainability Facility Manager

Significant reskilling needed

  • Robotic Engineer
  • Environmental Sustainability Engineer
  • Data Scientist/ Engineer
  • Computational Designer
  • Digital Systems Engineer
  • Metadata Project Manager
  • Energy and Sustainability Solutions Architect

Jobseekers or mid-career switchers who are keen on joining the BE sector can get support and on-the-job training by signing up for the following Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) for the sector by Workforce Singapore:

Built Environment: CCP for Construction Management Professionals

Administered by the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) with support from WSG, the CCP for Construction Management Professionals reskills individuals planning a career switch to new or redesigned roles in the BE sector.

Getting excited about joining the industry? Read on for more insights and information on how you can join Singapore’s BE sector, and what to look forward to below!

6 Tips to Establish a Career in Built Environment

Salary Guide Singapore 2023: Built Environment Industry

System Engineer Jobs: Pathways to Consider in Singapore

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