Going beyond training to woo Singaporeans to tourism, F&B sectors

October 14, 20139:32 am312 views
Going beyond training to woo Singaporeans to tourism, F&B sectors
Going beyond training to woo Singaporeans to tourism, F&B sectors

SINGAPORE — As the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) ramps up training capacity to meet the demand for skilled manpower in the tourism and food and beverage (F&B) sectors, industry players have been making adjustments to attract more Singaporeans into these sectors and manage the labour crunch.

These range from speeding up the career track for staff to improve retention rates, to offering more attractive salaries, according to panellists at dialogues organised by the WDA on Saturday, at which the agency announced it was tripling training places for the tourism and F&B sectors to more than 11,400.

And against the backdrop of tightened policies for hiring foreign workers, companies in both sectors are also streamlining operations to reduce dependence on manpower.

Mr Kevin Cheong, President of the Association of Singapore Attractions, noted that the increased training capacity reflects how the tourism sector is trying to move away from “broad-based training” for workers and there is a demand for skilled workers for the tourism sector. The sector, he added, will offer an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 vacancies within the next two to three years.

Mr Francis Tan, Human Resource Director at Sheraton Towers Singapore, who also took part in the panel discussion, said with better qualifications, the hotel can accelerate staff career paths — qualified staff can now be promoted to managers in two to three years, compared to the 10 to 15 years it used to take.

Asked how companies intend to attract locals to the sector, Mr Tan said the hotel “ensure(s) that career paths are good enough in the very short term” and help staff move up the corporate ladder.

About 70 per cent of its workforce is made up of Singaporeans now and it is hoping to increase that to 80 to 90 per cent, he added.

In the F&B industry, Select Group — which manages restaurants such as Lerk Thai and Peach Garden — has also redesigned its job processes in light of the foreign labour cuts. It includes using the central kitchen for bulk cooking and adopting “enhanced technology” for e-payments and e-orderings, said Managing Director Vincent Tan.

Likewise, the Lo & Behold Group has undergone some restructuring, said Chief Operating Officer Andrew Ing.

One of its strategies includes offering higher salaries for more experienced staff. “The salary bill is the same,” he noted, as the company can operate with a smaller team that is experienced, compared to a larger team of newcomers — it can pay six seasoned employees more, instead of spending the money on 10 less-experienced staff, for instance.

Mr Tan said the WDA’s diploma and advanced certification courses under the Workforce Skills Qualifications framework have been helpful for its staff, who have been able to “relate what they learned and put (it) into practice”.

However, the agency could consider providing degree-level programmes for the sector, as the question of “what’s next?” is often on the minds of staff who want to upgrade their qualifications, he said.


source: todayonline.com

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