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Welcome speech by BCA Chairman Mr. Quek See Tiat at the BCA-Built Environment Scholarship Award Ceremony at the Raffles City Convention Centre

Monday, 2 September 2013

Mr Lee Yi Shyan,

Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to join you on this joyous occasion. Today marks an important milestone as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our BCA-Industry Built Environment Scholarship Awards.

The scholarship programme could not have come so far without the strong support from the industry in partnering us to groom the next generation of young leaders. This year, over 1,000 applications were received, which is a strong testament to the success of the programme. A total of 45 industry firms are joining hands with BCA to give out a record number of 166 undergraduate and diploma scholarship awards. This is a significant increase from the 106 awards last year.

Attracting top talents into built environment careers
The built environment sector is one of the key pillars of Singapore's economy. Due to the ramping up of public housing and infrastructure projects, construction demand is expected to remain strong in the next few years. This also means that there will be more career opportunities for new entrants.

Amidst the positive outlook, there is a critical need to raise productivity within the built environment sector. To do so, we need a strong core group of competent and professional workforce to lead and transform the sector. Together with our industry partners, we now offer a full suite of seven scholarship, sponsorship and apprenticeship programmes at various academic levels from ITE, Polytechnic to University. This also provides a clear progression path for new entrants as well as for existing professionals and workers to upgrade themselves.

Transforming the built environment sector 
In the near future, we want to see a built environment sector that is highly integrated, productive and technologically advanced. Therefore, we must change the conventional way of doing things. There is an approach known as the DfMA - Design for Manufacture and Assembly, that we want the sector to adopt. This means designing buildings for ease of manufacturing and sub assemblies in factories, as well as transporting to the work site for final assembly.

Pre-fabricated pre-finished volumetric construction (PPVC in short) and Crossed Laminated Timber (CLT) are examples of how different parts of a building can be fabricated off site, and transported to the site for assembly, just like Lego blocks. The result is a shorter construction duration as well as a cleaner and neater working environment. There is also better quality control of the prefabricated components. More importantly, when less is done on site, safety will also improve. The worksite will be cleaner and more conducive. It will reduce the inconvenience to people living in the surrounding neighbourhood.

To achieve this, our industry firms will need to rethink their building designs and work processes, to shift towards a more knowledge-based and design-intensive culture, where designs are made right, from Day one. All these are positive changes that can help transform the sector so that firms would be able to attract more local talents to join us.

Exciting time to join the built environment sector
It is an exciting time to join the built environment sector as there are boundless opportunities awaiting you. As the sector transforms and moves towards the adoption of more advanced technology such as prefabrication and Building Information Modelling (in short BIM) we are constantly on the lookout for passionate young individuals like you who are keen to contribute to the future landscape of Singapore.

Besides good career prospects, the built environment sector also offers meaningful and fulfilling careers for you to play a key role in delivering quality living for Singaporeans. For example, you will be able to champion the greening of our buildings to make them more environmentally friendly, or you can spearhead the adoption of universal design in our buildings to create a more inclusive built environment to meet the needs of all users, especially for our fast ageing population. As built environment professionals, you will be responsible to innovate, break new ground, and create the best built environment for Singaporeans to work, live, play and learn.

Conclusion
It is important for industry firms and BCA to join hands to continue working together to build a strong pipeline of built environment professionals. All stakeholders have a role to play in attracting new talent and at the same time help the sector to grow and nurture existing talent. With strong industry support, I believe we can achieve our goal to build up a competent, productive and progressive construction workforce.

Let me extend my heartiest congratulations to the new scholars. I am sure, you, like me, are looking forward to the time when you will complete your studies and see your first piece of work in the Singapore built landscape. Thank you.

Footnote

Media release: Creating opportunities - more young talents benefit from the increase in the number of Built Environment Scholarship awards

Portable document format version of the speech is also available (22KB .pdf).

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