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Singapore launches Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, to create more than 1,600 PMET jobs by 2025

Singapore launches Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, to create more than 1,600 PMET jobs by 2025

The ITM features four thrusts for the next round of industry transformation, which includes creating quality jobs and improving job prospects for lower-wage and senior workers.

With a total of 23 Industry Transformation Maps to be deployed in Singapore, the latest to be launched is the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM) 2025, led by the National Environment Agency (NEA) with its tripartite partners and key industry players.

Launched by Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Koh Poh Koon, the ES ITM 2025 centres around accelerating efforts to strengthen innovation, improving productivity, and creating quality jobs. This 2025 plan aims to create over 1,600 professional, managerial, executive and technical (PMET) jobs by 2025.

In a nutshell, the following graphic illustrates some of the initiatives that will be undertaken for the sector's workforce:

future proofing environmental services

How ES ITM initiatives have fared so far (pre-launch efforts during the pandemic)

According to NEA, existing industry transformation efforts have led to good outcomes for the ES industry. The key initiatives include:

  • the development and implementation of the NEA-Industry Scholarship programme,
  • the INCUBATE (Innovating & Curating Better Automation and Technologies for Environmental Services) partnership programme,
  • outcome-based contracting (OBC) for cleaning services - To date, about 40% of large service buyers have adopted OBC., and
  • various efforts in creation of quality jobs and professionalising the image of the ES industry, such as:
    • Internationalisation - More than 35 progressive ES firms have successfully exported their solutions overseas,
    • Skills upgrading - NEA has worked closely with various Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to develop new courses for the ES industry, and
    • Skills Framework for Environmental Services (SFw) - In Dec 2019, the SFw was revised to incorporate the pest management sector, enabling greater lateral mobility and career options across the three subsectors for ES sector workers as well as cross-deployability for employers. 

ES ITM 2025: 4 priorities (productivity, new opportunities, enhance service delivery, quality jobs)

To advance Singapore’s green growth agenda, the ES ITM includes initiatives to harness opportunities in environmental sustainability, particularly in material circularity as well as decarbonised waste management solutions. These are likely to not only support innovation and technology adoption (to help moderate manpower demand), but also spur new, quality job opportunities for Singaporeans.

Per NEA's statement, the ES industry comprises some 1,700 establishments and has a workforce of over 71,000.

The ES ITM 2025 features four key thrusts for the next round of industry transformation:

Creating quality jobs and improving job prospects for lower-wage and senior workers

Insights on the upcoming trends and in-demand skills were gathered in 2021 through the Jobs Transformation Map (JTM) for the waste management and cleaning sectors. The JTM reviewed the progress of workforce transformation efforts since 2017, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce and mapped out a manpower development roadmap from 2021 to 2035. 

According to the JTM, the key trends impacting the environmental services industry and workforce were:

  • Accelerated technology adoption
  • Increase in service demand
  • Increased competition for talents

The JTM also noted that the some emerging job roles were the roles of integrated facilities management specialist, data analyst, and sustainability specialist. 

Integrated facilities management specialist skill sets required:

  1. Contract management
  2. Facilities management
  3. Stakeholder management

Data analyst skill sets required:

  • Data cleaning and preparation
  • Data analysis and exploration
  • Statistical knowledge
  • Creating data visualisations 

Sustainability specialist skill sets required:

  • Sustainability reporting
  • Environmental sustainability management
  • Environmental management systems

Aside from the emerging roles, the ITM also highlighted roles that are most likely to be impacted, i.e. waste collection crew and waste recycling sorter. More details in the infographic below:

environmental services impacted roles 

The key recommendations centred on strengthening upskilling opportunities of the workforce, re-designing and re-branding cleaning and waste management jobs, and these were considered into the ES ITM 2025 plans. NEA will continue to collaborate closely with tripartite partners to strengthen the local talent pipeline by attracting fresh graduates and mid-career individuals to seize the new opportunities for growth in environmental sustainability and public health.

Job redesign and upskilling will remain cornerstones to enhance job value, especially as jobs evolve with increasing emphasis on automation, digitalisation and sustainability. NEA has also refreshed the guide on uniforms for the ES industry to include a new chapter on personal protection equipment (PPE), in view of higher demand in cleaning and disinfection services. 

As shared by Minister of Manpower Dr. Tan See Leng in a Facebook post on the JTM, "The environmental services industry is rapidly changing — accelerated technology adoption and increasing service demand will change the nature of jobs in the sector. The JTM launch is timely, as it lays out the impact of such trends on existing job roles, and provides details about emerging roles." 

Improving productivity and moderating manpower demand through innovation and technology adoption

The ES industry will be positioned as one that turns national and industry challenges into value creation opportunities. This will be done through R&D, and innovation via innovation challenge platforms, and by pre-positioning ready ES firms for emerging opportunities in growth areas (locally and internationally).

On digitalisation, the ES ITM 2025 will support the development of solutions to enable data-driven ES operations and delivery to improve productivity, operational efficiency, as well as alleviate manpower challenges in the industry. These efforts will be poised to accelerate the industry’s digital transformation efforts.

Nurturing firms to seize new opportunities and growth areas

NEA will continue to scale up ready Singapore-based companies with global capabilities to internationalise, through global networking platforms — one such example would be the biennial CleanEnviro Summit Singapore (CESG), organised by NEA for thought leaders, policy makers and industry captains to converge and co-create sustainability and clean environment solutions.

Growing productive firms to enhance service delivery, capacity and resilience

NEA will continue to collaborate closely with stakeholders in the cleaning sector to drive adoption of OBC amongst private service buyers, and work with the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA), Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) and other industry stakeholders to develop a set of OBC guidelines for the pest management and waste management sectors.

Strong partnerships between stakeholders will spur transformation efforts

Wong Kim Yin, Future Economy Council (FEC) Resource and Environmental Sustainability Cluster Co-Chair commented: “The Environmental Services ITM 2025 aims to create a vibrant, sustainable and professional Environmental Services Industry for Singapore and growing cities."

Tony Chooi, President of Environmental Management Association of Singapore (EMAS) added: “EMAS will continue to support industry transformation efforts and encourage cleaning companies to adopt technology, and to train their workers to be multi-skilled. We are glad to be on this journey with NEA and will continue to curate relevant training courses and share best practices such as outcome-based contracting with the companies through different platforms and dialogues."

Melissa Tan, Chairman of Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) noted the initiatives for companies to further build up capabilities in sustainability and digitalisation tie in well with the introduction of the Progressive Wage Model for the waste management sector. "While we are prepared for these changes, we look forward to how ES ITM 2025 will help to retain and attract local talent into the sector."

Albert Lee, President of the Singapore Pest Management Association added: “Since the incorporation of the pest management sector in the ES ITM in April 2019, the SPMA has been working closely with NEA to ensure that the pest management workforce is well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with the public health challenges of tomorrow." 

Held in conjunction with the launch of the ES ITM 2025 on 16 January 2023 was the NEA-Industry Scholarship Awards Ceremony. The NEA-Industry Scholarship programme, a key initiative of the ES ITM, started in 2020 to bring in young talent from ITE and Polytechnics to join ES companies. Four scholarships were awarded at the ceremony to individuals who will take on job roles such as admin executives, operations executives, and management trainees in the ES industry upon their graduation.

Lead images\ / Minister of Manpower Dr. Tan See Leng Facebook post

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