One Belt, One Road: China Construction Bank to invest S$30bn in Singapore
New funds will be made available to support Chinese and Singaporean companies as part of China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure project. China Construction Bank (CCB) and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore have signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to the project.
The idea of the scheme is to better connect China with commerce from Africa, Asia, and Europe, much like the ancient silk roads used to do.
Under the MOU, which is the first signed by CCB with a Southeast Asian country, S$30 billion of financial services will be provided to support local and Chinese companies in investing in One Belt, One Road projects through Singapore. The bank has 176 major projects in One Belt, One Road countries, with a cumulative investment size of more than S$405 billion covering sectors such as mining, transportation, and power generation.
As Lee Ark Boon, CEO of IE Singapore, told Channel News Asia, the partnership between CCB and IE Singapore is “strategic, strengthening the critical financing element and bringing more projects to fruition”.
Speaking at the One Belt, One Road Infrastructure and Capital Market Financial Services Forum, Chun Sung, Minister within the Prime Minister's Office, claimed that outward investments from China are surpassing foreign direct investments into China, and thus that with the levels of infrastructure required in Southeast Asia, there is “tremendous potential” to channel part of the outward direct investment into the region.
217,000 extra workers needed to meet COVID-19 recovery
As the construction industry’s recovery progresses, the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecasts have led the organisation to believe the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022.
The CSN says there will be an increase in the number of construction workers in “most English regions” by 2025, with demands forecasted at a 1.7% rise for the East Midlands, and a 1.4% rise for the West Midlands.
Scotland and Wales are also predicted to see a surge in demand for construction workers with a total increase of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively. The North East is the only region to see a slight decline in workforce demand at -0.1%.
Wood and interior fit-out trades among the most desirable during COVID-19
According to CSN’s forecast, the trades that are the most wanted are those of wood and interior fit-outs, with both requiring around 5,500 workers per year. Other in-demand trades include technical staff and other construction professionals, requiring 5,150 workers each year, construction managers at 3,600, and the electrical installation trade, which requires 3,400 staff per year.
There is also expected to be demand for 7,850 non-construction, office-based professionals and technical and IT support staff each year. Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities.
“We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.
“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills, and skills related to energy efficiency”, he said.