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MOM to build & own two new purpose-built migrant worker dormitories to drive innovation & transform practices

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be building and owning two new migrant worker Purpose-Built Dormitories (PBDs) and setting up a new corporate entity “NEST Singapore Limited” to operate the PBDs in partnership with the private sector. This will allow MOM to drive innovation in health resilience and liveability, as well as transform practices in migrant worker housing.

Two New PBDs Operated by NEST Singapore Limited

2 In September 2021, MOM announced the improved dormitory standards and that the Government will build and own two new PBDs. These PBDs will be built and owned by MOM and located at Tukang Innovation Lane and Sengkang West. The MOM-owned PBDs will seek to promote innovations in public health resilience and liveability and transform practices in migrant worker housing. Ideas will be piloted and tested to assess residents’ feedback, effectiveness, and feasibility. Good practices will be shared with the dormitory industry. A deeper understanding of dormitory operations will also allow MOM to develop better policies, regulations and initiatives for migrant worker housing.

3  In terms of physical infrastructure, the MOM-owned PBDs will have higher ceiling heights for improved ventilation and greater comfort, en-suite laundry facilities to reduce intermingling in common areas, as well as larger recreational spaces that can be repurposed as medical and isolation facilities in the event of disease outbreaks. These enhanced features build on the improved dormitory standards, under which all new PBDs are required to have, such as more spacious rooms with occupancy caps and en-suite toilets, improved ventilation, and modularised and segmented communal facilities.

4 Beyond the physical infrastructure, managing the new PBDs will provide MOM with the opportunity to innovate and pilot new ideas for dormitory living and management. For example, MOM will explore technological solutions including facilitating in-room access to services in the PBDs, virtual training, and video conferencing. MOM will also encourage greater co-development of recreational programmes and activities within the PBDs to foster a sense of community amongst residents, working closely with residents themselves and non-governmental organisations.

5  To implement these plans, a new corporate entity “NEST Singapore Limited” will be set up to manage both PBDs. NEST aims to Nurture and Engage a community of Support to Transform migrant work housing and management for the future. NEST will manage the PBDs in partnership with the private sector, with the objective of bringing on board expertise and insights from both within and outside the dormitory industry. Its direct involvement in operations of the new PBDs will support driving innovation and showcasing standards in migrant worker housing, and allow MOM to grow its dormitory management capabilities. NEST’s experience would enable MOM to better design policies, regulations and initiatives for migrant worker housing. MOM targets to set up NEST in Q4 2022.

Providing Resilient Housing for Migrant Workers

6 “Building and owning the two new dormitories, as well as setting up the new corporate entity NEST, signals MOM’s commitment to fortify migrant worker housing for greater resilience and liveability,” said Minister for Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng. “MOM will continue to work with the dormitory industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to improve the “hardware” and “heartware” of the dormitory landscape in the years to come.”

7  “DASL welcomes and supports all initiatives to improve the dormitory industry, including raising standards in dormitory design, management capabilities, and the quality of care extended to our migrant worker community. We appreciate MOM and NGOs’ efforts in this area, as it aligns closely with the association’s agenda. Many of our members have gone beyond the prevailing regulatory specifications, implemented innovative technology solutions and developed new programmes for our migrant worker residents’ well-being, and we look forward to partner NEST to collectively bring further fresh ideas and best practices to the industry,” said Mr Johnathan Cheah, President of the Dormitory Association Singapore Limited (DASL).

8 “MOM’s measures to strengthen public health resilience and liveability of migrant worker housing would help to enhance the well-being of our migrant workers in Singapore,” said Mr Bernard Menon, Executive Director of Migrant Workers’ Centre (MDW). “MWC will continue to work collectively with MOM and stakeholders to uplift the living conditions of our migrant workers.”