The National Parks Board (NParks) launched last 04 May 2019 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.

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.

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 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.

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