Higher pay, training opportunities await landscaping workers under Progressive Wage Model, Jobs News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – When gardener Johnny Chan got into landscaping eight years ago, he was cutting hedges and hand cutting grass with tools.

But since then, machines have dramatically changed many of these tasks and, with them, his job.

What used to take three to four hours can now be done in just one hour, Chan said.

“In the beginning it was hard work. But after the first few years (after) I was more familiar with the work and the machines, the work is not that physically demanding, ”he told the Straits Times in Mandarin.

Mr. Chan, 55, is now a landscaper at Toh Chin Leong Construction, contracted by nature parks such as Gardens by the Bay.

Workers like him fall under the progressive wage model (PWM) for the landscape industry. From July 1, 2023, your minimum basic wage will increase by an average of 6.3 percent per year over six years.

Mr Chan declined to reveal his salary, but the base wage of a landscape overseer under the PWM is now $ 2,350 and is projected to hit $ 3,380 in 2028.

The PWM is a ladder that defines minimum wage and training requirements for employees of different skill levels. It is part of the effort to ensure that wages rise along with the skills, productivity and roles of those employed in the industry.

Mr. Chan said he wanted to get into the landscaping business because he was interested in plants and was bored with the routine of his previous job as a delivery driver.

Since then, he has taken numerous courses, including courses on handling machines and courses that expand his knowledge of greenery and the environment.

Mr. Chan said, “It is challenging to work with, with new technologies and developments. I don’t need a high salary as long as I can do a job I enjoy, but if I get opportunities to learn new skills and get a higher salary, I would be very happy. “

Felix Loh, Assistant Volunteer Secretary for the Singapore National Employers Federation, highlighted the challenge of an aging workforce in the landscape industry, with an average age of 60 years.

“The younger generation is more used to technology; we need to automate some operations (like watering) to make them faster, increase productivity, and some of these devices require higher skill levels to operate, ”said Loh, who is also the managing director of Gardens by the Bay.

Two new positions – Landscape Specialist and Senior Landscape Specialist – have been introduced to encourage younger Singaporeans and permanent residents to enter the industry.

From July 1st, 2023, students with the appropriate qualifications can be admitted to this track.

Chan commented, “If young people are interested, I hope they can get into the industry. There’s a lot to learn from people management to machine operation.”

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