We need to up construction productivity urgently. One key strategy is to promote standardization and prefabrication. In prefab construction, building components are made in the factories and transported to construction sites where they are hoisted by cranes for assembly. To support this productivity strategy, we need many crane operators on site. For example, for each HDB block under construction, the contractor needs to deploy one crane on the ground. This level of deployment is not excessive, as the percentage of precast materials used in the construction of BTO flats can be as high as 70%.
Some Singaporeans are joining this highly mechanised and specialised trade as crane operators. Mr Imran, in his late 20s, is one such licensed tower crane operator. He joined Cranetec Pte Ltd last year, and we need more Singaporeans to join this highly specialised and rewarding career.
Based on a 2012 BCA survey, the monthly gross salary (including overtime pay and allowances) of relatively new crane operators can reach $4,000. Those with more years of experience can take home a monthly gross pay of $6,000 to $7,000.
Today, there are about 3,600 active crane operators in the built environment sector, operating various kinds of cranes: Crawler, Mobile and Tower cranes. Half of the operators are Singaporeans. But we need more, a few hundreds more, as we ramp up our BTO programme.
To attract more locals to the trade, BCA recently launched a 1-year ‘Crane Apprenticeship Programme’ (CAP). This comes with an attractive remuneration package and upgrading opportunities. The crane apprentice will undergo a 12-day crane operation training and skill certification at the BCA Academy before embarking on the CAP, once he has obtained his crane licence from the Ministry of Manpower.
CAP is receiving positive response, with its first batch of 6 CAP apprentices starting the programme this month.
One of them is Steven Kok, a 28-year-old father of three young children. He is looking to hone a skill that would provide him with good job prospects and an attractive remuneration. He will soon be starting work with his employer, Leo Ong Construction Pte Ltd. Once he has gained sufficient experience, he intends to upgrade his skills and learn to operate other types of cranes.
We need more Imrans and Stevens so as to reduce our reliance on foreign crane operators. This is a good job with attractive remunerations.
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