Surbana Jurong commits to digital upskilling for 630 employees
Having spent some 30 years as a designer in the built environment industry, Ms Jerine Tay could easily be mistaken as a senior who is only fluent with conventional 2D design tools. But since she finished a 6-month specialist diploma course in Building Information Modelling (BIM), she has found herself looking at her work with fresh new eyes.
BIM training, to her, is like a magic carpet ride into a whole new perspective. BIM is an intelligent model-based software that allows builders to construct buildings on a computer before constructing it, offering a reliable tool for creating buildings from the design stage even to the demolition stage. “As I opened my mind to try new technologies, I started having much more fruitful conversation with my kids,” said the mother of two with visible pride.
“My children stopped seeing me as an old-fashioned auntie who knows nothing about technology. I see this as a good form of bonding with the young, exploring new apps, technologies with them,” she said.
Ms Tay was among three colleagues at Surbana Jurong who underwent digital upskilling in recent years. More are set to follow.
Indeed, whether it’s flying drones to survey work sites, creating intelligent construction models or auditing for structural defects in real time – 630 Surbana Jurong employees will learn to use these new skills to supercharge their career pathways in a fast-changing urban and infrastructure development landscape.
Surbana Jurong, together with the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU), has committed to equip 630 employees in Singapore with digital skills in key areas set out in Singapore’s Construction Industry Transformation Map.
This commitment was sealed through an MOU signed on 20 Aug to form a Company Training Committee (CTC) as the key vehicle to boost upskilling efforts in the company. The signing was witnessed by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.
Through the CTC, employees learn advanced technology skills in the areas of design, construction and site inspection which they will immediately apply in current or near-term projects. Examples are BIM; a proprietary digital tool called AUDIANCE for building site inspections in real time, and the use of drones in inspections and other purposes in the construction industry. Training places will also be set aside specifically for new employees.
Ms Tay's role as a principal technical executive, M&E Engineering, Township, has also evolved somewhat as she shares her knowledge with her team-mates , which she enjoys doing. “We get more interaction, and we are able to see how we can improve upon each other’s work. I feel it is important to understand our work, and learn from each other in our projects.”
Like Ms Tay, Ms Khairani Hassan, Senior Technical Executive (C&S) of Township Civil and Structural, is another example of a veteran staff member who has gone for BIM training. She said, “It is a good move that the company sends us for training for the new software as we all need to embrace the latest technology. It shows us that the company values our growth.”
Ms Lai Lee Sar, a technical specialist (architecture), who also underwent BIM training, said change is “inevitable” to increase company competitiveness overall. For best results, she hopes, the training will go on constantly. She explained: “As the whole working process is changed, and you can’t absorb at one go… either one embraces the new technology or one will be left behind.”
Looking ahead, Ms Tay hopes to have more opportunities to practise her learning. She said: “I feel that it is important that trained employees do take some time out to practise their skills and be more involved in on-going projects. We should never doubt our capabilities and think we cannot do things because of our age or gender or education – we must always have a positive mindset.”
Voicing support is Mr Wong Heang Fine, Surbana Jurong’s Group CEO. He pointed out that for some time, Surbana Jurong has decided on “a people-centric approach in our adoption of digital technologies by placing emphasis on inculcating in our workforce a culture of innovation.”
“We are happy that BATU has invited us to form this Company Training Committee,” he said, “which will contribute significantly towards supporting our efforts to prepare our Singapore workforce for a transition to the digital world. In particular, we are working to adopt the Integrated Digital Delivery process in support of the Industry Transformation Map for the Singapore construction industry.”