Landscape Industry Receives S$12 million to Enhance Productivity - Monies to Fund Initiatives Under Landscape Productivity Roadmap for Five Years
11 Sep 2011
Singapore, 11 September 2011 - Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, announced today at Green Thumbs 2011 various new initiatives under the S$12 million Landscape Productivity Roadmap that will enhance productivity for the landscape industry. Developed by the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE) of the National Parks Board (NParks), in collaboration with the landscape industry, the Roadmap aims to build capabilities of the workforce as part of efforts to grow Singapore into a City in a Garden.
Landscape Productivity Roadmap
The Landscape Productivity Roadmap adopts a comprehensive and holistic approach to enhance productivity in across the industry. More than 20 initiatives are being planned under the Roadmap and these will be implemented progressively over five years from 2011 to 2016. Some of the initiatives include:
i) Landscape design guidelines for productive maintenance
ii) Landscape maintenance benchmarks
iii) Landscape Apprenticeship and Mentorship Programme
iv) Nursery Accreditation Scheme
Speaking at the event, BG (NS) Tan said: "Just a few weeks ago, NParks announced a framework for our City in a Garden vision. One of the six key areas is about upskilling the landscape industry to support the realisation of our vision. Indeed, the landscape industry has a vital role to play in creating our City in a Garden. The City in a Garden framework and its various initiatives will also present many growth opportunities for the industry. In the next three years, we expect the landscape industry to grow between 4 to 6% each year." (Please check against delivery)
Landscape design guidelines for productive maintenance
The design of green spaces directly affects the manner in which it will be maintained. Traditional landscape design focuses on beautifying spaces and making them functional for users. However, the design may not be efficient or cost-effective to maintain. The guidelines would allow for improvements in the way green spaces are maintained, and landscape designers, contractors, developers, park managers and building owners will be aware of how their decisions on design will affect the landscape maintenance regimes. For example, in the maintenance of lawns, the guidelines will enable the potential use of mechanised mowing, as well as the reduction of soil compaction and growth of weeds, thereby enhancing productivity. The Singapore Sports Council, one of some 20 companies that participated in the study, adopted the guidelines in the upgrading of their sports recreation centres around Singapore. It is estimated that they could save up to 30% on annual maintenance.
Landscape maintenance benchmarks
A benchmark study was conducted from February to July 2011 which documented landscape maintenance work processes. The study showed how some companies were more productive than others, and helped set the landscape maintenance benchmarks for the industry. The documentation process helped 22 landscape companies identify specific tasks that were less productive, and adopt relevant measures to improve them. One of the companies, Swee Bee Contractor Pte Ltd, was able to use the benchmarks and introduce changes to their worker deployment schedule. This resulted in an estimated 15% improvement in overall productivity.
Landscape Apprenticeship and Mentorship Programme (LAMP)
A programme that seeks to attract young people to the industry, the Landscape Apprenticeship Scheme is a "earn-as-you-learn" programme. With a strong emphasis on mentoring and on-the-job training, LAMP seeks to hone the apprentices' managerial and technical skills. Currently being developed by NParks in partnership with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the programme will provide incentives for both apprentices and host companies. An extensive feasibility study was conducted recently and received positive support from the industry. The framework for LAMP will be completed by the end of this year, and the programme is expected to start by the first quarter of 2012. Several landscape companies have expressed their strong commitment to LAMP and will be attending a Leaders' Orientation Course next month. As training under the Landscape Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework is an integral part of the programme, CUGE will be rolling out the full suite of Landscape WSQ courses by early next year. (For more information, please refer to factsheet on CUGE).
Nursery Accreditation Scheme
The nursery sector is the source of soft landscape materials and at the front of the landscape supply chain. Currently, products from the nursery sector are of variable quality and standards across the industry. The nursery accreditation system seeks to identify and implement best practices and standards, as well as optimise land productivity for the nursery sector. This will allow for more consistent quality nursery products and supply. NParks expects this scheme to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2012, and estimates that over 70 nurseries will be accredited over the next five years.
While machinery and high-tech equipment can help enhance productivity, they can also be very costly. Many small and medium enterprises are not able to afford the equipment. To assist these companies, NParks is currently sourcing for different machinery that can enhance productivity, and lease them to the industry. An example that NParks is considering is the stump grinder. This machine is capable of reducing labour hours required to remove a tree stump from 2 to 24 hours to about 1 to 3 hours. However, this machine would only be required infrequently by most landscape contractors making them ideal for lease. It is anticipated that the first machines would be available for hire by mid 2012.
Green Thumbs 2011
An annual event on the landscape calendar since 2006, Green Thumbs is jointly organised by CUGE and the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore to celebrate the development journey and enhance the image of the Singapore landscape industry. The theme for Green Thumbs this year is 'Advancing Productivity, Empowering People'. It aims to inspire landscape companies to equip their workers with higher skills set through training, and encouraging leadership and teamwork to raise productivity.
One of the highlights of Green Thumbs is the Skills Championships. As in previous years, the Championships showcase various competencies of the landscape workers, such as tree climbing, chainsaw operations, excavator operations, turf maintenance, and mowing. Introduced in 2010, a productivity competition highlighting teamwork and multi-disciplinary capabilities was held this year as well. This comprises a circuit of five landscape workstations, where workers demonstrate their skills in performing multiple landscaping tasks. About 150 workers, both local and foreign, participated in the 10 Skills Championships. Activities such as soccer, cricket, tug-of-war were also organised for about 1,200 workers as part of the event.