Mr Umesh Pralhad Ursekar, President of the Singapore Project Management Institute
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening. I am delighted to be here this evening.
The Project Management Institute Singapore Chapter has been a crucial partner in promoting project management in Singapore. You have continued pushing the frontiers of thought leadership in the field. The Institute holds an annual symposium in Singapore for the community to learn and exchange best practices in project management. This year, the symposium was held two weeks ago. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Institute for yet another successful symposium.
Technology Disruption in the Engineering Services Industry
Many of us are well aware that digital technology is rapidly changing the way projects are being planned, built and managed.
Engineering companies are increasingly leveraging application technologies in robotics and drones to perform specific design, construction and surveying tasks, leading to better productivity and efficiency within the industry.
Building Information Modelling (BIM), for example, provides an integrated digital platform for architects, engineers and builders to share information, possibly real-time, to improve accuracy of design and minimise coordination time.
In the construction sector, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has identified Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) as one of the key focus areas, to reap the full benefits of BIM.
The Engineering Services industry in Singapore is proactively responding to these digital trends. Through support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), companies such as Samsung C&T, KBR and Aurecon are building up relevant digital capabilities to optimise operations and stay ahead of the competition.
- In June last year, Samsung C&T established a Regional Digital Design Centre of Excellence in Singapore to develop BIM capabilities for water and underground rail projects both locally and across Southeast Asia.
- Aurecon established its first Regional Centre of Excellence in Digital Engineering in Singapore last October, to develop and harness design efficiencies using digital technologies, such as BIM, virtual design and construction, drones, virtual reality, automation and so on.
- Last December, KBR established three Regional Centres of Excellence in Singapore. One of them focuses on Digitalisation in a strategic global partnership with IBM, which sets out to build a digital platform for the hydrocarbons industry, from design and engineering to operations and maintenance.
Rising Urbanisation Presents New Opportunities in Asia Pacific
The growing demand for infrastructure, in tandem with the rise of Asia and ASEAN, present tremendous opportunities for the industry. By 2030, ASEAN could become the fourth largest market in the world, with a combined GDP of up to US$10 trillion; 56 per cent of its population will be urban; and ASEAN will house approximately a tenth of the global middle class.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will continue to catalyse infrastructure developments in the region, driving more opportunities for companies here.
- Singapore is well positioned to capture these opportunities.
- We have a strong pool of world-class developers, architecture firms, and leading accountancy firms with project advisory teams. 15 of the top 20 global engineering consultancies have their regional operations based out of Singapore.
- Forty of the top 100 international law firms, including those with active infrastructure practices, have a presence in Singapore. The top five Singapore law firms are the largest in Southeast Asia with a strong regional practice and infrastructure dispute resolution expertise.
- Singapore is a financial centre, and Singapore-based banks have provided loans or financial advisory services for an estimated 60 per cent of infrastructure projects in ASEAN.
- Multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank and its sister agencies, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), have also a significant presence in Singapore and offer a critical source of infrastructure finance and project structuring expertise.
- Companies have leveraged Singapore’s vibrant ecosystem to build their infrastructure project development teams.
- Atkins, for example, opened its new infrastructure advisory business under the name of Acuity in Singapore last January. Acuity will comprise teams armed with both commercial and engineering expertise to offer end-to-end project development and financing advisory services for infrastructure projects globally.
- More can be done to accelerate the growth of the sector. To capture regional infrastructure opportunities more effectively, the Singapore Government has announced plans for a new Infrastructure Programme Office. This was announced in Budget this year.
- The Infrastructure Office is intended as a platform to connect local and international stakeholders across the value chain, enable information exchange on infrastructure opportunities in Asia, facilitate infrastructure investments and financing, and help infrastructure players, including professional services providers, access these opportunities.
- The Infrastructure Programme Office will be set up by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in October 2018. It will work hand in hand with industry players in the infrastructure ecosystem, and bring together resources and networks from other Government agencies including EDB and the Professional Services Programme Office (PSPO).
When there are infrastructure projects, there will always be a demand for good project management. Therefore, I would strongly encourage PMI and its members to work with the Infrastructure Office, once it is set up, to see how your industry can capture the opportunities afforded by the infrastructure demand in Asia.
Industry Transformation to Capture Evolving Opportunities
To participate in these emerging regional projects, the industry needs to continuously invest in new skills and expertise, and build innovation capabilities.
In January this year, we launched the Professional Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) to develop the industry to become a global market leader in high-value, specialist services.
- A key initiative under the ITM is the Engineering Services Skills Framework that EDB is developing with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).
- It aims to identify disruptive trends, map out career pathways within the sector, highlight potential skills gaps, and develop courses to fill these gaps.
- The Skills Framework is intended to be used by both employers and job seekers, and is slated for completion by the end of 2018.
- We are heartened that companies are already embarking on initiatives to develop and groom future-ready talent, with strong support from the Government.
- Local firm Meinhardt set up competency centres for firstly, Smart Cities; and secondly, Project Management & Construction Management.
- The Smart Cities Centre looks at developing master-planning capabilities focused on sustainability and future upgradability for intelligent cities and townships in Singapore and the region.
- The Project Management Centre grooms project managers with integrated end-to-end project delivery services in manufacturing and high-tech industries.
- Faithful & Gould, a member of Atkins, also established their Asia-Pacific competency centre for Project Management in Singapore last January to bring up the next generation of project management leaders in Singapore.
We encourage engineering services firms to continue working closely with EDB to build a robust pipeline of talent to address the ever-growing needs in the region.
It is our hope that the plans and initiatives outlined will help us deliver meaningful value and sustainable solutions in addressing the regional needs for infrastructure – as well as to achieve our goal of being a key hub for engineering services in Asia.
- I wish you all a wonderful evening ahead. Thank you.