Grooming leaders to drive Singapore’s clean and green mission

The environmental services industry needs leaders and advocates who are passionate about advancing Singapore’s clean and green mission

By Rebecca Rachel Wong

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic goes on, the environmental services (ES) industry continues to provide essential services to keep Singapore running. During the circuit breaker period, when most workplaces were closed, the cleaning, waste management and pest management sectors had to continue their operations.

“They play even more critical roles in maintaining high standards of public health and hygiene, as we continue to fight against Covid-19,” says Mr Dalson Chung, director of the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Industry Development and Promotion Division.

Being so indispensable, the ES industry needs leaders and advocates who are passionate about advancing Singapore’s clean and green mission. These leaders form the backbone of the industry, and are pivotal in the Republic’s efforts to maintain a liveable and sustainable environment. 

In the throes of change

In February last year, the NEA-Industry Scholarship Programme for the Environmental Services Industry was launched. A collaborative effort between NEA and the ES industry, the scholarship hopes to facilitate meaningful career opportunities for young Singaporeans looking to enter the field. Talents will be groomed to take on roles within ES firms, preparing them to be future industry leaders.

As Mr Chung points out, the need for skilled talent becomes even more salient during a pandemic.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the cleaning sector has experienced a surge in market demand for cleaning and disinfection services,” Mr Chung observes. “Our waste management workforce had to manage waste collection with a reduced workforce in residential areas, which saw higher volumes of waste due to more people working from home. The pest management sector also continued to provide services amid the pandemic to keep the environment clean and liveable.

“The pandemic has also highlighted skills gaps in disinfection services and digital literacy among the cleaning workforce.” 

Picking up tricks of the trade

In the light of such challenges, the NEA-Industry Scholarship hopes to equip recipients with the necessary skills.

As full-time students, scholarship holders will get internship opportunities at sponsoring ES organisations, giving them exposure to the business. Sponsoring firms will also provide one-on-one mentorship and share their tricks of the trade. Upon graduation, scholarship holders will be placed in core jobs at sponsoring firms.

“Through their mentorship programmes and job roles, scholarship holders will gain technical knowledge and leadership skills to strengthen the quality of environmental services,” says Mr Chung.

To address the rising demand post-Covid, the ES industry is also looking to adopt more advanced technology in its operations, such as robotics, automation and Internet of Things solutions.

Scholarship recipients can take part in research on technologies, and redesign processes to improve efficiency and work quality.

“Scholarship holders could also contribute to stakeholder and public engagement, to drive public awareness and shape behaviour on waste minimisation, recycling and pest management,” Mr Chung adds.