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Plugging manpower gap

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Through collaboration between government agencies and industry players, Singapore looks at training its manpower in F&B and retail sectors

Singapore and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) recently announced that they are developing a structured programme to train Singaporeans for part-time jobs in the retail and F&B sectors. Analysis by Singapore Company Registration specialist Rikvin reveals that this news comes on the back of a recent announcement that Singapore’s services industries, excluding wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food services, have demonstrated an overall improvement of six per cent year-on-year as of quarter two of 2012.

Launched as a pilot last year, the programme attracted 90 companies, and as many as 2,500 part-timers were trained between September 2011 and June 2012. The latest programme, when formalised, will identify niche areas in retail and F&B industries that could benefit from a ready pool of manpower. The government agencies also want to explore the hotel industry to see if the pool of trained part-time workers can be extended to it as well.

The training curriculum will be developed collectively by WDA, SPRING, Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) and the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS). SPRING will also fund up to 70 per cent of the curriculum development and take on 90 per cent of the training fees. The programme is aimed at training an additional 5,000 part-time workers over the next two years.

“This collaboration between government agencies and industry players is essential to ensure that part-time workers are ready for the rigors of the shop-floor,” says Satish Bakhda, head of Operations, Rikvin.

Meanwhile, official data from Singapore’s ministry of Manpower indicates that there were about 194,700 part-time workers in 2011, up from 176,700 in 2010. Some F&B chains that are set to benefit from this latest initiative include The Soup Spoon, whose total staff strength of 300 comprises of approximately 90 part-timers.

“By generating a larger pool of trained part-time Singaporeans, the government is also trying to offset the increased costs in the services sector because of the recent changes in dependency ratio ceilings and foreign workers levy. The RAS has already reported a labour shortage of 10 per cent – 13 per cent as a result of these measures. However, our view is that retailers and F&B industry players should view the usage of this part-timers pool as a short-term measure. Their overall long-term strategy must be focused on brand-building and employee development,” notes Bakhda.

“On another level, the current situation faced by retailers and F&B managers carves new opportunities for entrepreneurs who are considering Singapore company formation to change the game and innovate the retail and dining experience here both for consumers and enterprises,” affirms Bakhda.


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