About 5,400 jobs on offer in food sector despite Covid-19 pandemic

Around two in five are for PMETs; positions available since April under SGUnited package

Job salaries are varied, based on the job nature and skills requirements.
Job salaries are varied, based on the job nature and skills requirements.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

While the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to exact a heavy toll on Singapore's labour market, the country has still managed to drum up and offer some 5,400 jobs in the food service and food manufacturing industries.

These positions have been available since April under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, and about two in five of them, or 2,070, are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), it was revealed yesterday.

With the economy slowing and retrenchments starting to bite, Singapore has been squeezing out jobs, attachments and training opportunities across various sectors to engage and reskill its workforce amid the crisis.

Said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday: "Workers who have been reskilled not only get to keep their jobs, but also acquire new skills and take on higher-value tasks. There is also scope for them to earn higher wages when the economy improves."

She was giving the sixth edition of her ministry's job situation report yesterday.

Past editions of the job report, which started on Aug 11, have thrown up a total of 16,100 jobs and training opportunities in sectors such as precision engineering, infocommunication technology, manufacturing and start-ups.

Some 2,430 individuals have already managed to take up these jobs and other opportunities.

The impact on the food sector during the pandemic was uneven, Mrs Teo said. Food services were badly hit, especially during the circuit breaker. On the other hand, food manufacturing companies that sold staple foods managed to do well.

Now jobs are available again, with about 2,070 PMET positions for roles such as food technologists, chefs, food and beverage service managers and business development managers.

 
 

The remaining 3,350 jobs included supervisors and general foremen for food processing, bakers, pastry and confectionery makers as well as shop and store salesmen.

Salaries can vary and while a manufacturing manager at the 75th percentile can earn $6,050, the median salary is around $2,850.

For bartenders and baristas, those at the 75th percentile earn $2,600 while the median salary is $2,150.

Apart from the jobs available in the two food-related industries, Mrs Teo revealed that there are around 540 company-hosted traineeships and attachments on offer as well as 740 training opportunities available.

Yesterday, Mrs Teo also said that more than 1,800 people found jobs or underwent training in the food sector through Workforce Singapore's (WSG) programmes between April and July. Nearly 80 of them were mid-career individuals who entered the sector through career conversion programmes.

Mrs Teo said people could consider taking up jobs in the food sector, even if they had no previous experience in it, as long as they came with the right attitude.

 
 

"For those who are coming from sectors where they have transferable skills, such as in innovation management or manufacturing practice, they will certainly have a more seamless experience to tune into the food sector, but there will still be specific skills that they will need to pick up," she said.

Within the food service industry itself, she said that 900 workers were being trained to take up new or higher-value roles under WSG's Job Redesign Reskilling Programme.

Singapore is racing against the clock to create new jobs while others are being lost. Labour market statistics published last week revealed that 11,350 people were retrenched in the first half of this year - the worst showing since the 2009 global financial crisis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'About 5,400 jobs on offer in food sector despite pandemic'. Print Edition | Subscribe