Overseas Trade Testing and Upgrading for Foreign Workers

Trade Testing for New Foreign Workers

The Skills Evaluation Certificate (Knowledge) or SEC(K) trade test evaluates the foreign workers’ trade knowledge and craft-skills competency. Foreign workers who are interested to work as construction work pass holders (WPHs) in Singapore are required to pass this SEC(K) trade test, which comprises of two components:

a. Written test

A 1-hour written test consisting of multiple–choice questions (MCQs) in English with translations in Chinese, Tamil and Thai. It ensures that the workers possess essential trade knowledge such as the materials, tools and equipment used in the trade, work sequence, good practices to be adopted and safety requirements.

b. Practical test

A 4 to 5-hour practical test to assess the workers’ practical craft-skills competency. It ensures that the workers are able to meet quality standards for the trade through the timely completion of a practical test project based on the expected skills set of a skilled tradesman.

The Overseas Testing Centre (OTC) will inform the candidates of their test results, and only those who pass will be awarded with the SEC(K) certificate during their identity verification at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

Candidates who would like to know more about the SEC(K) trade test can purchase a set of the syllabus and sample test papers from the Manpower Development Department at S$21 (inclusive of 9% GST) per trade by placing order through https://www.bca.gov.sg/feedbackform.

The total fees for Skills Evaluation Certificate (Knowledge) for all the areas of test per candidate is capped at $925 (before GST), which is payable by the employer-to-be sponsoring the worker, to the OTC office in Singapore, at the point of test enrolment. A receipt will be issued to the employer- to-be upon payment by the respective Overseas Testing Centre (OTC).

Upgrading Pathway and Schemes for New or Experienced Foreign Workers

To raise the quality and productivity of the construction workforce in Singapore, BCA launched the following schemes overseas to allow new and experienced foreign workers to be eligible to become a Higher Skilled Worker (R1):

a. Direct R1 Pathway

For new and experienced workers who have 0 or less than 4 years of construction experience in Singapore. They must pass the SEC(K) trade test at higher skills standard, and draw a fixed monthly salary of S$1,600 or more to qualify as a Higher Skilled Worker (R1).

b. Multi-Skilling Scheme

For experienced workers who have at least 4 years of construction experience in Singapore. They must achieve at least 2 SEC(K) skill certifications of different trades, and be registered under the Multi-Skilling scheme to be recognised as a Higher Skilled Worker (R1).

c. Construction Registration of Tradesmen (CoreTrade) Scheme

For experienced workers who have at least 4 years of construction experience in Singapore and holding a valid work permit. They must be registered under the CoreTrade scheme, have valid Acknowledgement Notice (AN) and pass the stipulated skill assessments conducted by the BCA to be recognised as a Higher Skilled Worker (R1).

d. Market-Based Skills Recognition Framework (MBF)

For experienced workers who have at least 6 years of construction experience in Singapore and earn a fixed monthly salary of S$1,600 or more. The MBF is implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and more details can be found in their website at https://www.mom.gov.sg/.

The maximum Period Of Employment (POE) for Basic Skilled Workers (R2) and Higher Skilled Workers (R1) for construction sector are as follows with effect from 1 May 2018.

Basic Skilled Workers (R2)

Higher Skilled Workers (R1)

14 years

26 years

Registration Procedures for Overseas Trade Testing

Employers who would like to hire new or experienced foreign workers can approach the Singapore office of the OTCs to check the closing dates for test registration each month.

The SEC(K) trade test can be registered with:

  • Prior Approval (PA) issued by the Work Pass Division of the MOM; or
  • Request of Approval (RA) administered by the Manpower Development Department of the BCA. 

Employers registering foreign workers for the SEC(K) trade test at basic or higher skill level with PA are required to complete and submit the following documents to OTC:

-     Original PA form (PA must valid for at least 2 months from the test closing date); and

-     Two copies of Form T1 (applicant's copy and BCA's copy).

The OTC will record the number of candidates registered for test, endorse on the original PA form and both Form T1, and return the applicant's copy to the employer.

With effect from 1 Oct 2021, there is no minimum Period of Employment (POE) requirement of three years for new and renewal construction NTS and PRC WPHs to qualify for man year entitlement (MYE) waiver. https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2022/0327-extension-of-support-measures-for-businesses-in-cmp-sectors

As MYE is not required to hire a new worker, an employer can register worker for test at source without Prior Approval (PA). Instead, an employer can submit Request for Approval (RA) to enrol a worker for test. Employers are required to complete and  submit the following documents to the BCA appointed OTCs’ Singapore offices to register their workers for tests.
1. Declaration Letter for Overseas Test Registration
2. Request for Approval (RA)
3. Latest ACRA printout; and
4. SLOT registration certificate (exempted for BCA registered contractor).

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is man-year entitlement (MYE) waiver without POE for work pass application?
The MYE waiver without POE enables employers to apply for new or renew NTS and PRC construction WPHs with no requirement on minimum Period of Employment (POE). The levy rates are as follows:
 Levy Rates
NTS refers to India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Philippines.
NAS refers to Hong Kong (with HKSAR passport), Macau, South Korea and Taiwan.
2. What is Request for Approval (RA) under the MYE waiver route?
Employers can submit Request for Approval (RA) to register workers for test under the MYE waiver route (without PA). Workers who pass the SEC(K) test at basic skills level is eligible for construction work pass both under the MYE or MYE waiver route.

3. Who can register workers for test with RA under the MYE waiver route?
Firms registered with the Building Construction Authority (BCA) Contractors Registration System (CRS) or Singapore List of Trade Subcontractors (SLOTS) can register workers for test with RA under the MYE waiver route.

4. When will the test registration with RA commence?
Employers can register workers for test with RA from April 2022 onwards.

5. How can I bring in new workers to Singapore?
Employers can now bring in new workers to Singapore who have passed the SEC(K) test under the MYE route (with PA) or MYE waiver route (with RA).

6. How many workers can I register for test with RA?
Employer is urged to register workers for test with RA based on the number of work pass holders they can hire under their Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC). The current DRC is 1:7 (i.e. 1 local employee to 7 WPHs or S Pass holders). With effect from 1 Jan 2024, the DRC will be reduced from 1:7 to 1:5. For more information, please refer to https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2022/0218-supporting-transformation-in-the-process-and-construction-sectors

7. Can I bring in workers registered with RA under the non-MYE waiver route (i.e. PA with MYE)?
Yes, employers can choose to bring in RA workers who have passed SEC(K) under the non-MYE waiver route (i.e. PA under MYE).

8. How can I apply or renew work permit for worker under the MYE waiver route?
To apply or renew work permit for worker under the MYE waiver route, pleaser refer to 

9. Can a RA worker who is sponsored under Company A choose to be employed under Company B after passing his test?
Yes, a worker who has registered for SEC(K) with PA or RA under Company A can choose to be employed under Company B after passing his test.

10. How can a worker obtain Higher-Skilled (R1) status?
A worker who has passed SEC(K) at higher skills level and earns a monthly salary of $1600 will qualify as Higher-Skilled (R1) worker under both MYE route (with PA) and MYE waiver route (with RA).

Employment and In-principle Approval Letter Endorsement

Upon receiving the test results from OTC, the employer is to apply for the worker's In-principle Approval (IPA) from MOM to bring worker to Skills Certification Enrolment Counter at BCA Academy (located at 200 Braddell Road) for identity verification and IPA letter endorsement within 4 or 5 months of the test date for those candidates who passed with PA or RA respectively. The identity verification and IPA letter endorsement is strictly by appointment only. Employer or the employer’s representative can login to Overseas Testing Management System (OTMS) at https://otms.bca.gov.sg/ to register for the appointment. Instructions and user guides can also be found at the website.

New Integrated Syllabi for Formwork Trades

All trainings and testing of formwork trades held at the Approved Training and Testing Centres (ATTCs) and Overseas Testing Centres (OTCs) will be based on a new integrated syllabus, which has been enhanced with formwork safety components with effect from 1 January 2016.

Workers who attended the training and passed the test at the ATTCs or OTCs based on the integrated syllabi are exempted from attending the Formwork Safety Course for Workers (FSCW) conducted by MOM’s Accredited Training Providers (ATPs) or Learning Service Providers (LSPs). The certificates issued to these workers will have “Enhanced” added to the trade names. For example: Enhanced Aluminium Formwork, Enhanced System Formwork and Enhanced Timber Formwork.

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