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Environmental Services Digitally Empowered in Singapore

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have refreshed the Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan (ES IDP). The ES IDP now covers the pest management sub-sector as well, in addition to cleaning and waste management.

New digital solutions for the environmental services (ES) industry have also been added. These enable the ES industry to look forward to a more employable workforce, such as preparing multi-skilled professionals who can move across various sub-sectors. Businesses can also synergise cleaning, waste management and pest management services to reap greater efficiency and productivity.

With manpower challenges across the cleaning, waste management and pest management sub-sectors, companies need to constantly improve the way they work and deliver their services. The demand and expectations of these environmental services will continue to rise, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Transforming the industry to be more productive is therefore critical to ensuring the continued delivery of environmental services to provide a clean, liveable and sustainable environment in Singapore.

The refreshed ES IDP helps ES Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) address these challenges. Digital solutions incorporating newer and more advanced technologies such as robotics, augmented and virtual reality, as well as blockchain, have been included, as their commercial applications are now more mature and readily accessible. Some of these solutions are now relevant even for SMEs at an earlier stage of their growth. SMEs can tap on the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) for the ES industry to adopt pre-approved digital solutions recommended in the ES IDP.

To ensure that the ES workforce is adequately equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to adopt digital solutions, companies can refer to the Digital Roadmap on Training in the ES IDP, which includes the type of courses available to equip their employees with the relevant skills and knowledge. Since 2019, NEA has worked with partners to develop short courses for members of the ES workforce to learn more about the use of digital technology in environmental services. An example is the ‘Introduction to Digital Technology in Environment Services’ course offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), which includes robotics and automation, as well as software and management systems.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, said that the COVID-19 situation has underscored the critical role of the Environmental Services industry in safeguarding public health, and provided an impetus for companies to improve their operations to become more efficient and productive as they experience an increase in demand for their services while facing manpower constraints. For example, the adoption of technologies and digital solutions such as cleaning robots and smart toilet systems has not only led to higher productivity but also enabled companies to upskill their workforce and enhance jobs. The refreshed ES Industry Digital Plan which now includes the pest management sub-sector is yet another milestone in the country’s efforts to transform the ES Industry.

The ES IDP was first launched in 2018 and forms part of IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme that aims to make going digital simple for SMEs. It includes a three-stage Digital Roadmap, which charts out the digital solutions that SMEs can adopt at each stage of their growth. Larger enterprises can also use the Digital Roadmap to guide their digital journey. The Digital Roadmap on Training will also be continuously updated to ensure that the industry’s workforce is adequately prepared with the necessary skills and knowledge to adopt digital solutions so that they are ready for changes that come with digital transformation. The IDP will be updated over time as the industry progresses and new, more relevant technologies are introduced. NEA will continue to work with partner agencies to champion initiatives to attract and retain local talent, upskill the workforce and accelerate technology adoption.

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