A new committee will look at higher wages and better career progression for lift technicians to attract more people into the industry.

It is part of the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) ongoing effort to get about 1,000 more technicians - from the current 2,000 - over the next three years.

"It's a stretch target, but with this additional effort, it is possible," BCA chief executive John Keung told reporters after a ceremony for 108 Institute of Technical Education (ITE) scholarship recipients yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said the Lift and Escalator Sectoral Tripartite Committee will help develop a "training framework to increase the capacity and competency of the sector". The committee will make its recommendations by the end of the year, Mr Lee said.

He also reassured recipients about their job prospects, citing upcoming infrastructure projects like the Jurong Lake District and Greater Southern Waterfront.

"Even as we undertake this transformation, we must remember that the built environment sector is also about essential infrastructure and amenities that are integral to modern living... There will be an increasing need for skilled engineers and technicians," he said.

In a Facebook post, NTUC's director for industrial relations Melvin Yong said: "We also want to work through the committee to not only change public perception, but also improve the working environment of our lift and escalator technicians."

At the ceremony, 14 parties from the Government, unions and private sector also signed a pact to attract locals by supporting scholarship programmes and offering attractive jobs, among other things.

The dearth of lift technicians has come under the spotlight following a spate of lift breakdowns last year.

Industry experts cited the insufficient number of staff needed to maintain the 63,000 lifts and 6,000 escalators here as a reason.

The relatively low pay is a deterrent. Those fresh from ITE get $1,200 to $1,500 monthly, less than the average ITE graduate pay of $1,900, said deputy principal Lim Teck Lee.

But recent graduate Loh Ashley Mohamed Fattah, 25, takes home $2,200 a month, thanks to a scholarship tie-up between BCA and Joven Engineering, his employer.

"I have always liked working with machines. But the good salary will help me provide for my family more easily," he said.

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Posted in Featured, Construction on Feb 14, 2017