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NParks to transform Singapore landscape sector with new 10-year plan

NParks to transform Singapore landscape sector with new 10-year plan

NParks and ITE sign MOU to invigorate the landscape sector with new, younger talent

Singapore, 04 May 2019 – The National Parks Board (NParks) today launched Singapore’s Landscape Sector Transformation Plan (LSTP), a tripartite effort that aims to elevate and grow the local landscape sector through digitalisation, mechanisation and professionalisation. The LSTP will equip the landscape workforce with the higher value skills necessary for greenery and landscape management in Singapore’s biophilic City in a Garden. Accompanying the enhancement of greenery and strengthening of urban ecosystems, the sector is expected to grow up to 30% by 2030 in terms of revenue and value-add per worker.

Talent development for the landscape sector

A key thrust of the LSTP is talent development. Hence, the LSTP will upskill the existing 12,000-strong workforce and grow a new generation of landscape talent to manage green spaces in Singapore, which are expected to grow by 1,000 ha over the next 10 to 15 years.

Employees in the landscape sector will be trained to understand ecosystems, integrate ecological processes and incorporate the use of technology to enhance their professionalism and competence in greenery management. While enhancing their core skills in horticulture and arboriculture through science and technology, training will also focus on equipping employees with ecological knowledge to better understand the management of natural landscapes.

To develop a pipeline of skilled younger talent who will invigorate the sector, NParks signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). This collaboration will see the introduction of park and tree management technology in the classroom, a revised academic curriculum to impart higher value-added skills and ecological knowledge, as well as a new initiative allowing students to gain hands-on experience in managing a park starting July this year. NParks and ITE are also working together to offer a new Work Learn Technical Diploma (WLTD) in Arboriculture and Horticulture for implementation next year. The curriculum for the WLTD is being developed in collaboration with professional associations whose member companies are potential employers of the graduates.

NParks leading the industry push for digitalisation, mechanisation and professionalisation

A joint effort led by NParks together with companies and associations from the landscape industry, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and government agencies, the LSTP is a holistic transformation plan that aims to grow the sector up to 30% over the next 10 years. This involves strengthening productivity through digitalisation and mechanisation, as well as enhancing professionalism through skills and technological advancement. There are six levers under the LSTP, two of which are new technology and standards, as well as training. More information on the rest of transformation levers of the LSTP can be found in Fact Sheet A.

As part of the LSTP, NParks, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), and Workforce Singapore (WSG), together with industry partners and IHLs, have developed the Skills Framework for Landscape to provide companies and professionals with information on career progression pathways and emerging and existing skills required in the sector. The Framework highlights relevant training programmes that would facilitate digitalisation and adoption of technology. Emerging skills identified include Automation of Landscape Operations, Biophilic Design, Ecology in Landscapes and Environment Management in Landscape Operations. The Framework also allows jobseekers to explore career opportunities, and employers and training providers to assess trends and skills gaps to further transform the landscape sector.

WSG, together with SSG, will also leverage the Framework to help companies redesign jobs and become manpower-lean through Transform and Grow programmes. Through these efforts, companies can improve work processes and create high value-add jobs to help the sector stay competitive amid a tight labour market. More information on the Skills Framework for Landscape can be found in Fact Sheet B.

Strengthening landscape education by imparting higher value skills and hands-on training

To prepare the sector for the future through its next generation of talent, NParks is working together with ITE to strengthen their curriculum with higher value skills for greenery and landscape management.

The use of technology for arboriculture and horticulture management will be emphasised. Working with NParks, ITE has revised the Nitec and Higher Nitec curriculum to include knowledge and skills in design, ecology and conservation, arboriculture and horticulture. They will learn about planting and reshaping landscapes to include our native flora which would support fauna, for example understanding which plants attract pollinators like bees, butterflies and birds. Upon graduation, students would also be able to pursue the upcoming WLTD, which is currently being developed by a technical committee comprising landscape industry companies and chaired by Michael Teh, Director of Nature Landscapes. More details on the WLTD will be shared when it is ready next year.

As part of the MOU between NParks and ITE, students will manage parks in Singapore as part of their hands-on experience beyond the classroom. Bedok Town Park has been identified as a pilot site to be the first student-run park starting July 2019. Guided by their teachers who have been trained by NParks, ITE students from the current Higher Nitec in Landscape Management and Design course will manage the entire park and its trees by using technology, such as drones, wood resistance micro drill and sonic tomograph for tree inspection. Students will also be given access to Maven, NParks’ database for officers to get data on trees, parks and gardens on the go, and have the opportunity to go on educational exchanges or capability transfers in Australia. These enhanced learning components will prepare them for professional certifications subsequently, such as becoming a Certified Arborist.

The LSTP was announced at Lakeside Garden today by Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee. The LSTP is part of the Built Environment cluster which is also headed by Minister Desmond Lee, and is a product of the tripartite efforts of the Future Economy Council Built Environment Sub-Committee.


MEDIA FACT SHEET A

LANDSCAPE SECTOR TRANSFORMATION PLAN

The Landscape Sector Transformation Plan (LSTP), part of the Future Economy Council Built Environment cluster, is a tripartite effort led by NParks, together with companies and associations from the landscape industry, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and government agencies. The LSTP is a holistic transformation plan that aims to grow Singapore’s landscape sector up to 30% over the next 10 years through digitalisation, mechanisation and professionalisation.

The LSTP will support the need for enhanced greenery management and value-added skills in the landscape sector, as Singapore realises its vision of being a biophilic City in a Garden. It will provide more productive and innovative landscape companies with a highly skilled and professional workforce, and better jobs for Singaporeans. Landscape workers will be trained to appreciate ecosystems, integrate ecological processes and incorporate the use of technology.

There are six levers under the LSTP:

Introducing new technology to raise industry standards and efficiency

Under the LSTP, NParks will help landscape companies move ahead from maintenance to management, by enabling service providers and landscape workers to be competent in digital technology and sustainable landscape management.

For example, NParks is encouraging its contractors to use ride-on mowers, robotic mowers, wood chippers, as well as provide access to Maven, its in-house database where officers and contractors can get information on trees, parks and gardens on the go. NParks will also be setting greenery design and management standards for landscape companies that include the use of technology and mechanisation in its landscape operations.

Some of the current technology that the landscape sector is making use of are:

  • Tree inspection drone
  • Robotic mowers
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Tree-diagnostic equipment, such as wood resistance micro drill and PICUS (sonic tomograph)
  • Contractor Fleet Management System
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) software by landscape design companies

There are several upcoming technologies that landscape industry can benefit from. They are, but not limited to:

  • Tree Tilt Sensors
  • Tree Failure Analytics
  • Automation
  • Artificial Intelligence

Training the workforce to improve skills and professionalism

Landscape workers will be trained to appreciate ecosystems, integrate ecological processes and incorporate the use of technology. This will help them to better understand the science behind our urban ecosystems, conservation and native biodiversity. By professionalising the workforce, NParks is looking at the shift of the landscape industry from basic landscape maintenance to value-added skills in greenery management.

Raising productivity through government support

The Landscape Productivity Grant (LPG) aims to encourage landscape companies to purchase landscape equipment for the purposes of achieving productivity benefits and gain better operational efficiency when they work on projects such as landscape design,construction and maintenance. Companies which are supported for the grant will be able to defray their costs when they purchase new equipment.

To date, a total of 72 unique companies have been supported in mechanising their operations under NParks’ Landscape Productivity Grant. In addition, NParks also encourage the landscape industry to tap other forms of support provided via the Business Grants Portal.

Developing and tendering out nursery land

NParks has worked closely with URA to safeguard more than 100 ha of land for long term nursery use. Since November 2017, NParks has launched more than 15 plots of land and more will be launched progressively from now till 2025. This will help to align the nurseries’ operations standards with NParks standards, and further develop and maintain productive nurseries for Singapore’s landscape sector.

Exporting local landscaping services

Under the LSTP, NParks is also helping to identify potential local landscape companies for export promotion in landscape management and consultancy services. This will help to internationalise Singapore’s landscape sector and capabilities.

Promoting best sourcing in contracts

NParks will be piloting changes in the way maintenance is being carried out. Service providers and their staff would be required to be competent in digital technology and automation, in addition to the core landscaping and ecological skills.

Best Sourcing involves striking a good balance between the way work is done and delivered and the budget available to do the work. NParks has been taking the lead in pushing Best Sourcing for the landscape sector, e.g. the Quality weightage in tender evaluation has been raised steadily from 20% to 40% in the last ten years. Today the tender evaluation is a combination of Price and Quality Weightage at 60:40. More details will be provided at a later stage


MEDIA FACT SHEET B

SKILLS FRAMEWORK FOR LANDSCAPE

About Skills Framework for Landscape

*The Skills Framework for Landscape is an integral component of the Landscape Transformation Plan (LSTP). It is jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG), and the National Parks Board (NParks), together with employers, our Institutes of Higher Learning such as Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore. Industry associations such as the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (SILA) and Landscape Industry Association Singapore (LIAS) as well as unions such as the Building Construction, Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU), and the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) have also contributed to the development of the framework.

  • The Skills Framework for Landscape supports the manpower strategies articulated in the LSTP by providing key information on the sector, career pathways, occupations/job roles, as well as existing and emerging skills, and competencies required for the occupations/job roles. The framework also provides a list of training programmes for skills upgrading and mastery.

Who is it for?

The target groups for Skills Framework for Landscape are as follows:

Individuals who wish to join or progress within the Landscape sector will be able to assess their career interest, identify relevant training programmes to upgrade their skills, and prepare for their desired jobs;

Employers will be able to recognise these skills and invest in training their employees for career development and skills upgrading;

Education and training providers can gain insights on sector trends, existing and emerging skills that are in demand, and design programmes to address the sector needs accordingly; and

Government, unions and professional bodies will be able to analyse skills gaps and design appropriate SkillsFuture initiatives to upgrade the manpower capability and professionalise the sector.

Key components of the Skills Framework

The Skills Framework for Landscape contains information on the sector, career pathways, occupations/job roles, skills and competencies, and training programmes. The key components include

  • Sector information – provides information on key statistics, trends and workforce profiles in the sector;

  • Career pathways – depicts the pathways for vertical and lateral progression for advancement and growth. A total of five tracks has been identified, covering 17 job roles:
    • Landscape Design
    • Landscape Implementation
    • Horticulture and Turf Maintenance
    • Arboriculture
    • Nursery
  • Occupations and job roles – covers 70 existing and emerging technical skills and competencies, 18 generic skills and competencies, and their respective descriptions.

  • Some of the emerging skills identified include:
    • Automation of Landscape Operations - Adopt and incorporate technology within landscape operations to improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness
    • Biophilic Design - Seek to connect or integrate natural elements and living things such as vegetation, flowing water, and sunlight with the built environment.
    • Building Information Modelling Application - Use Building Information Modelling (BIM) software to make design, engineering, project and operational information accurate, accessible and actionable for engineering projects
    • Ecology in Landscapes - Adopt principles of ecology, which include the interaction of organisms and their environment, in the design, implementation and management of landscapes
    • Environment Management in Landscape Operations -Develop and execute plans to manage the adverse impact of landscape operations on the environment
  • Training programmes* for skills upgrading and mastery – provides information on training programmes, which will help aspiring individuals and in-service employees acquire skills necessary for various jobs.

*The training programmes for the Skills Framework for Landscape will be made available at www.skillsfuture.sg/skills-framework/Landscape.


MEDIA FACT SHEET C

NPARKS-ITE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU)

Intended to strengthen landscape education in Singapore, this collaboration between the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will develop a pipeline of skilled professionals and invigorate the sector with new, younger talent. NParks is working with ITE to equip the next generation of landscape professionals with knowledge and skills in technology and digitalisation. This aligns with two levers of transformation under the Landscape Sector Transformation Plan (LSTP):

  • Introducing new technology to raise industry standards and efficiency
  • Training the workforce to improve skills and professionalism

The MOU will cover:

  • Joint development of a pool of skilled professionals for existing as well as new careers in the landscape industry, including developing a Student-Run Parks Framework to enhance learning experiences in landscape training
  • Provision of internship experiences and progressive programmes in the landscape industry (whether within NParks or through identification of NParks’ partners) in areas such as diagnostic arboriculture, flora and fauna monitoring, nursery operations and Building Information Modelling (BIM) in landscape
  • Provision of study awards to students in the Nitec in Urban Greenery and Landscape and Higher Nitec in Landscape Management and Design programmes or related programmes
  • Facilitation of curriculum development of ITE programmes in the landscape discipline by incorporating key developments, adoption of digitalisation and new mechanisation and technologies, where possible.
  • Facilitation of capability building and transfer of knowledge through joint study visits, projects, master classes, lectures, workshops, Continuing Education and Training courses and Train-the-Trainer programmes, where possible

Student-Run Park at Bedok Town Park

ITE is the first Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) to implement the Student-Run Park initiative, and Bedok Town Park has been identified as the pilot site for this.

A Student-Run Park is a park that is set up as a live lab for students to gain first-hand experience in landscape design, horticulture and arboriculture management as part of their course of study. This will enable them to acquire and hone industry-relevant skills in a real workplace environment. The student-run park will also be a platform for students to test out new technologies and innovative solutions in landscape management. This is part of efforts to develop a pool of skilled professionals for the industry, through the adoption of technology and digitalisation.

The pilot project has involved students from the Nitec in Urban Greenery & Landscape and Higher Nitec in Landscape Management & Design courses since September 2018, and is included as part of their curriculum. Students conducted a site evaluation for the management of Bedok Town Park and presented their proposals to NParks earlier this year. The students have also been trained by NParks on the use of automation and technology in arboriculture and horticulture management. These include the use of drones to conduct tree inspection, as well as the deployment of the sonic tomograph and wood resistance micro-drill to assess the condition of trees.

From July to December 2019, the students will be taking charge of the landscape management tasks at Bedok Town Park. They will be at the park two to three times a week, spending at least half a day for each session.

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