Speech by SCAL President, Mr Kenneth Loo At SCAL Annual ANNUAL Dinner 2018, 13 September 2018, At shangri-LA Hotel Singapore
Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance
Fellow SCAL members
Ladies & gentlemen
Good evening and a warm welcome to the SCAL Annual Dinner 2018.
The construction sector is one of the key pillars to Singapore’s growth and development. Tonight, we are gathered here again as the Association celebrates 81 years building our nation together. I would like to especially thank our Guest-of-Honour, Minister Heng Swee Keat for joining us this evening.
The Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL)
SCAL’s history dates back 1937. At that time, there were just 30 building contractors as members. Fast forward 81 years, the samsui women have long given way to modern modes of construction that have made possible today’s infrastructure and skyline, enabling us to commute, live, work, play and enjoy as part of our daily lives in a first world environment.
Today, SCAL represents some 3,000 members that built more than 75% of Singapore’s buildings and infrastructure. Our membership cuts across a wide spectrum of construction firms and allied businesses, comprising large companies as well as small and medium sized enterprises.
And reflecting the changing profile of the construction industry, it is estimated that construction firms now employ at least four times more engineering professionals than others in the built environment value chain.
However, one thing that has really changed is that – while the samsui women are all but non-existent now, the sector is somehow more male-dominated today.
Over the years, SCAL has developed in tandem with evolving economic, social and technological needs of the nation. Our programmes and services span a range of activities such as:
Workplace safety and health, or WSH promotion, awareness and training
Certification and audits
Advocacy for contracts and practices
Foreign workers accommodation, welfare and recreation
Productivity and innovation
Green and environmental sustainability, and
Corporate social responsibility programmes
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members for their continued strong support given to SCAL. Special thanks to my fellow Council members and members of our subcommittees and working groups for their dedication and hard work. (Please join me to give them a round of applause.)
When the Committee of the Future Economy, or CFE was formed in January 2016 to develop economic strategies for the next decade, SCAL highlighted the need for the construction industry to stay connected to likewise be ready to build for this future. For all the plans that Singapore aspires to become – such as a smart nation, and a vibrant and connected city – we believe that there are opportunities for local enterprises in the construction sector to build the infrastructure, services and facilities that will be needed.
The construction business today operates in a world of unprecedented technological disruption. The construction landscape is fast changing as innovative and new construction methods, coupled with digitalisation, provide solutions for higher efficiency, raising construction productivity, and at the same time eliminate exposure to dangerous tasks for workers.
The launch of the Construction Industry Transformation Map, or ITM is indeed timely to pave the way for adoption of leading technologies across the construction value chain, and growing progressive firms supported by a skilled and competent workforce.
SCAL is privileged to be one of the key partners with the Building and Construction Authority and other stakeholders in the built environment to develop the Construction ITM, and be involved in several of the subcommittees and task forces in developing plans for implementation.
However, as the industry champion, SCAL recognises the need to reassess our strategies for bringing the industry forward.
SCAL’s key thrusts for transformation
Early this year, the SCAL Council held a strategic planning retreat with the goal of aligning the Association’s plans towards this aim. I will share briefly the four key thrusts that came out from this retreat.
For physical facilities, SCAL will expand services in the proposed Construction Hub to include areas such as business helpdesk and networking, and showcase new construction methods and productive technologies. The proposed Construction Hub could also be a focal point to co-locate other construction-related trade associations to facilitate greater synergy and mutual benefits across the construction value chain.
2.Business support and development
In line with the ITM, we will enhance our programmes and services of our subsidiaries, SC2, SCAL Academy and SCAL Resources. For example, SC2 will need to develop new capabilities for inspection and certification where required for manufacturing and assembly, or DfMA components and processes.
SCAL Academy has been at the forefront of safety training for construction workers. Our programmes are widely recognised and accredited by SkillsFuture Singapore, or SSG. As announced in June this year, we will be setting up a new Safety Training School to include experiential and blended learning.
SCAL Academy will also transform adult training in the construction industry for a future-ready workforce to include curriculum such as DfMA, virtual design and construction, or VDC, and integrated digital delivery, or IDD.
3.Partnership and alliances
Membership is the core to SCAL’s existence. We will seek to become a more inclusive trade association, representing a wider spectrum of the construction industry, ranging from large enterprises to SMEs, both local and foreign companies.
The growth and sustainability of our sector will require the concerted effort of all industry stakeholders. SCAL will forge closer partnership and strategic alliances that would open new doors of opportunities, while at the same time, work closely with government agencies to facilitate the adoption of labour efficient designs and construction methods along the entire value chain.
Building and sustaining strong a secretariat support is central to ensuring ongoing success of the Association. SCAL will embark on initiatives to develop and strengthen our secretariat capabilities through professional training on essential skills and competencies to better support our members.
SLOTS – Launch of SCAL Safety Awards
Now let me touch on the Singapore List of Trade Subcontractors, or SLOTS Registration Scheme. SCAL launched the scheme in 1992 as an industry-driven initiative to raise the competence of subcontractors.
SLOTS today is a trusted scheme that provides stakeholders, customers and players in the construction industry ecosystem with the confidence to engage subcontractors that have been assessed to have the relevant competence, credibility, stability and professionalism.
More importantly, SLOTS-registered subcontractors are part of the SCAL network to receive up-to-date information on regulatory requirements, and participate in our programmes and activities to upgrade their safety, quality, productivity, technology, sustainability and other initiatives.
SLOTS-registered subcontractors also play an important part in ensuring workplace safety at construction sites. To encourage greater ownership of their WSH practices, I am pleased to announce tonight that SCAL will be launching the SCAL Safety Awards.
The Awards will give recognition to SLOTS-registered subcontractors that have shown commitment and dedication in advocating and raising WSH practices and standards in their organisations.
As part of the criteria, the company must possess a good WSH record with no fatal incidents, have not been issued with any stop work orders, nor placed under Business Under Surveillance, or BUS by the relevant authorities.
Applications for the Awards will open in April 2019, with the first Awards expected to be presented at next year’s Annual Dinner. [So there’s more reason to attend next year’s dinner.]
In conclusion, construction companies today continue to grapple with rising business costs, increasing competition and tighter regulatory controls. Even as we remain hopeful with a pipeline of construction projects ahead – given the series of en-bloc developments and major infrastructure projects such as the North-South Corridor, Changi Airport Terminal 5 and upgrading plans for public housing – there is a need to close the gap between these current challenges and what we hope to achieve in the ITM.
However, it is up to all of us to stay progressive and to keep up with the pace of business and technological changes. On our part, SCAL will endeavour to provide whatever support needed, and be an effective voice of the industry as we embark to build a sustainable future for Singapore.
In closing, I would like to once again thank our guest-of-honour Mr Heng Swee Keat for gracing the dinner tonight. We look forward to your guidance.
On our 81st Anniversary, I wish one and all another prosperous and progressive year ahead. Thank you.