The hotel industry here has become the first sector to get a dedicated five-year manpower strategy, under a national drive to equip students and local workers with industry-relevant skills.
The sectoral manpower plan, announced yesterday by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, is part of the SkillsFuture initiative and lays out five measures to upgrade and retain workers in the industry.
These include more structured internships, an Earn and Learn programme for polytechnic and ITE students, and a framework of new skills needed and career progression opportunities from operations level to senior management roles.
Mr Lim said the strategy, initiated by the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Workforce Development Agency, is important with the number of hotel rooms here due to rise by 20 per cent by 2020, boosting demand for workers.
But the ageing workforce, tight foreign worker inflows and rising aspirations mean that the supply of rank-and-file workers - who now take up around 65 per cent of the 35,400 jobs in the hotel industry - will grow at a slower rate.
"If we are prepared to... strive for better service with leaner manpower, we will not only have breakthrough in the short term, but also sustainable growth for the long term," Mr Lim said at the launch event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa in Farrer Park.
Being the first sector to launch its manpower strategy "shows how serious we are about grabbing the bull by the horns", said Singapore Hotel Association executive director Margaret Heng.
A total of 32 hotels - including Grand Park City Hall and Resorts World Sentosa - and two hotel groups have signed up for the first Earn and Learn programme.
They will receive funding of up to $15,000 a trainee to provide on-the-job training for fresh hires from polytechnics who will spend a year studying for a diploma in hospitality business management.
There will be 60 trainees in the first batch and a similar programme for ITE graduates is also in the pipeline.
Internships for hospitality students at polytechnics and ITE have also been standardised.
They previously lasted from 12 to 24 weeks with monthly stipends of $450 to $1,000, depending on the institution. They should now last half a year and have allowances of at least $600.
Experience in at least two departments is also recommended.
Republic Polytechnic student Bay Si Xiang, 21, is serving an internship as a housekeeping coordinator at Four Seasons Singapore and will move to laundry operations next.
He said: "I'll be able to better understand the departments and be more ready for the industry."
The manpower plan should make hospitality careers more attractive and reduce the likelihood of students moving to other industries, according to National Trades Union Congress Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster chairman Tan Hock Soon.
"The new skills ride on technology and form new jobs," he said. "This will make workers more employable."
Sectoral manpower plans, first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in this year's Budget, will be launched for more than 20 key sectors such as the social services, healthcare, and retail and food services.