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Productivity Challenge for Builders

With recent year of increase workers levies and tighten in-flow of foreign workers has been pressure the local builders finding ways to minimize the easy measure of recruit cheap labours and encourage focus on productivity and automation option. Read more on previous blog discussion.

What is the challenge for Builders  ( Part 1)

Productivity challenge ahead

Despite many Production & Incentive credit (PIC) scheme has been rolled however, a lot of builders especially SMEs are still slow in adapting the change. Is that the reason of lack of incentives implement  from Government or they are not aware or there is other constraint to refrain them to make a change.

The giant MNCs builders has been actively implement the taking advantages of the scheme to use new technologies and methods to help less labour-locus methodology has yet to seen to real benefits. And more and more measure from Government to encourage the building designer to adopt lean efficient construction methods such as pre-fabricated components, light weight green building material in their design.

However, what is real challenge for Builders yet to fully gear up for the chance?

1. Time

Builders are always in pressure to meet the date line and cope with the complexity challenge for the project. With the existing pressure to meet the date line, the incentives may not be the priority. They may even need to recruit more workers to complete the job in-time to avoid penalties.

There has been long discussion of the construction time frame provided locally is acceptable or reasonable if compare with other regional country such as Malaysia, Hong Kong or Australia. The construction frame and duration for local project is relative short compare  them, and arguable when we concern due to high value of the land for the end users, the fastest the completion and quicker to cover the rent. In line with that, the penalties for the delay the project will relative higher and the builders has not price for it and deal with it. There is no correct and wrong answer for this chicken and egg scenario. If the industries can have more realistic time frame for the completion, will the builders adopt more lean construction approach and productivity will be another topic of discussion.

2. Manpower / Resources

The tighten of in-flow of foreign workers since 2010 and increase of worker levies and due to hit $600 in 2015 ( lower skilled) have been raised the concerns by builders, especially SMEs.  The direction of increase the levies is to reduce the dependent of cheap and lowered skilled workers has yet to see the better report instead of falling of productivity 2.9 per cent in last year 2013, and down from 0.1 per gain in 2012.

Many locals builders are facing labour shortage for the works, it has reduce their expansion and the issues of increase the workers salary to keep the workers. The chain reaction  from the labour shortage has been helping the increase their salary and the other hand there are more reported cases of workers hopping to another company to demand for higher salary. There are a lot of training required for the first time workers when they started work in construction site. After the company spending time and resources to train the equip them after 3 months, they are start hopping to another company by return and come back to Singapore for better salary. A lot of builders are caught with the situation and unable to do anything with the situation. With the bad experience, the company will reluctant to train and teach to workers from lower skill and change to high skilled workers to prevent them for hopping job and this will definitely reduce the goal of increase productivity.

If the level of workers has been experience of job hopping, there is no doubt the problem of management staff facing the same issues. With locals reluctant to involve in this construction industry, and the shortage of staff has turned into the cheap labour and train them become supervisor from the workers has been in practice for many years. The markets has been able to train more white collar level to cope with the property booming and construction of MRT in past few years, and in flux of foreign talents has been become another issues and to dealt with in nation highlights. With further tighten of employment pass in past two years, it was further slow the process of increase productivity due to lack of resources to complete the task and project.


The challenge of time and labours/ resources are the main two factors to blame for not be able to improve productivity significantly. The builders in the other hand to cope with shortage and the same time to dealt with time-line will definitely testing their balancing skills in their business.




One Response so far.

  1. […] the previous discussion of the productivity challenges  in Part 1 where time and manpower resources are the main challenges for a lot of local SMEs. There are a lot […]