Speech by SCAL President, Mr Kenneth Loo At SCAL Built Environment Summit 2018, 22 October 2018, At Max Atria @ Singapore Expo
Mr Hugh Lim, Chief Executive Officer, Building and Construction Authority
Friends from the Construction Industry Joint Committee, or CIJC
Ladies and gentlemen
Good Morning and welcome to SCAL’s Built Environment Summit with the theme “Transformation of Construction SMEs”. Today’s event is being held in conjunction with the BuildTech Asia 2018 exhibition. Thank you all for your presence here today.
About this time last year, the Construction Industry Transformation Map, or ITM, was launched to chart the direction for the future of construction in Singapore. SCAL was one of the key partners with BCA and other stakeholders in the built environment to develop the ITM.
The ITM aims to raise construction productivity through adoption of modern and innovative construction methods, skills upgrading, and reducing reliance on manpower while enhancing workplace safety and health.
However, it would be true to say that from the broader industry perspective, the ITM is an illusion especially among small and medium sized enterprises, or SMEs. Their perception is that the ITM is confined only to big firms that have strong internal capabilities and financial muscle.
In a recent survey conducted by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or SCCCI, less than half of the construction firms surveyed have heard of the ITM. Well, if there is any consolation, across all sectors, only two in five have heard of ITMs. What is more important however is that even among those who are aware, more than 60 percent are not sure what they could do and benefit from it.
This is not surprising, given the fact that the industry has been, and is still facing very challenging times where companies, especially the SMEs, continue to grapple with day-to-day bread-and-butter issues.
But SMEs are an important part of the ecosystem of the construction industry, with many acting as subcontractors, suppliers or service providers. Just as a convoy is as fast as the slowest ship, it is important therefore that we bring our SMEs on board in order to achieve the transformation under the ITM.
An inclusive trade association
As one of our strategic thrusts to lead the industry for transformation, SCAL aims to become a more inclusive trade association to represent not just the large enterprises but also the SME construction firms.
Today, SCAL has some 3,000 members comprising about 300 ordinary, associate and trade members, or OAT members, and about 2,700 trade subcontractors registered under our Singapore List of Trade Subcontractors, or SLOTS, registration scheme.
While about 80 percent of our members are SMEs, two-thirds of OAT members are A1 and A2 contractors, with the remaining in B1, B2 and other categories. Hence there is still a large population of SME contractors that SCAL needs to reach out to.
SCAL will expand our services to provide greater support to develop, nurture and strengthen the capabilities of SMEs in the sector. We will be also be working with BCA on specific programmes to reach out to these companies.
One such activity is our productivity clinics which we have been running with BCA over the past seven to eight years. We will revamp these sessions to be better tailored to SME needs, and open them up to all SMEs, not just our members.
Topics at the seminar
The theme of today’s Summit is “Transformation of Construction SMEs”. We are privileged to have CEO Hugh Lim and some of my CIJC colleagues to engage in a leaders’ dialogue on bridging the gap between current challenges facing SMEs and what we aspire to achieve through the ITM.
We are also privileged to have speakers to share with us on digital transformation with IDD, how SMEs have transformed themselves through innovation and internationalisation, and speakers on financing and government assistance programmes.
I urge all of you to participate actively and benefit from the discussions.
Before I conclude, I would just like to mention SCAL’s Productivity and Innovation Awards, or PIA. In our third year, the awards aim to raise productivity in the construction sector through a ground-up approach for innovative ideas.
Over the next three days, the top 10 finalists of this year’s PIA are being showcased at the BuildTech exhibition in Hall 3. I encourage all of you to visit the booths to view the projects, and also cast your vote for the best team! The prize presentation will be held on Wednesday 24 October here at the Expo.
In closing, I would like to thank CEO Mr Hugh Lim, panellists and speakers for taking time off their busy schedules to be with us today. Our appreciation also goes to our event partner Spheres Exhibits for their sponsorship towards today’s Summit and the PIA exhibition booths.
On this note, I wish you a productive and fruitful session ahead. Thank you.