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5 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.

Singapore’s built environment 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 (BfMA) 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.

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Singapore’s built environment gameplan

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!”

How reskilling and upskilling is fundamental

He shared how it was critical that Singaporean workers in our BE industries get help to develop and upskill to power the transformations needed and examples of how and what schemes are available.

In redesigning existing jobs, he focused on these three key points:

  1. Transformations will enhance the job quality of BE professionals.
  2. For example, there are emerging roles in digital delivery management and smart facilities management, many of which did not exist a decade ago.
  3. To make use of these new technologies, the BE industry will not just need top management to embrace these changes but will need to redesign some of the existing jobs and help workers adapt to the changes. So, change management is an important process.

Minister Lee also shared on schemes that supported firms in upskilling and reskilling for job redesign and recognised one that recently benefitted from them: “For example, P&T Consultants, an architectural and engineering firm, has made use of Workforce Singapore (WSG)’s Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR) to conduct job redesign for its project assistants and draughtspersons.

“In their existing roles, these professionals had been trained all along in modelling 2D building diagrams.

“The company then reskilled five of their staff through the Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for BIM professionals and equipped them with new digital skillsets.

“Doing so has allowed the company to streamline job processes and achieve up to 20% in time savings. It has also enabled its employees to take on multi-faceted roles!”

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Younger workers can find careers in the built environment industry, too

For many Singaporeans, their view of BE jobs mainly involves laborious, back-breaking work, but the sector is changing, and it is also important to build greater awareness of these changes and to help develop the pipeline of workers joining the sector.

Minister Lee said: “When I speak to younger Singaporeans, I often hear that they want to contribute and make a difference not just in Singapore but in the world.

“Careers in the built environment sector are meaningful. The critical role that the sector plays in designing, building, and maintaining a sustainable, inclusive, and liveable Singapore is not lost on any of us here.

He concluded: “Our efforts to transform technologies, processes and people will not only allow us to confront the challenges that lie ahead but seize the opportunities that come about with change.”

“So, we will do better in communicating this to our young Singapore!”

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