Manpower plan for food services industry launched to reduce manual labour, build skills

Mr Edwin Kho (left), a bar supervisor at The White Rabbit restaurant, is using a polishing machine to clean wine glasses, on May 31, 2016.
Mr Edwin Kho (left), a bar supervisor at The White Rabbit restaurant, is using a polishing machine to clean wine glasses, on May 31, 2016.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Using a machine that can help bartenders polish wine glasses three times faster, or a wireless ordering system that allows the waiter to place orders and settle bills remotely without having to walk back-and-forth to a counter.

These strategies are examples of what companies in the food service industry in Singapore can do to be more productive.

They are part of the food services sectoral manpower plan (SMP) launched on Tuesday (May 31) by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran at The White Rabbit, a restaurant in a former chapel in Dempsey.

The plan aims to improve jobs in the food services industry by reducing reliance on manual labour and building skills for local workers to progress.

It outlines three main strategies: redesigning of jobs using technology, building a future-ready Singaporean core and strengthening human resources.

The five-year plan was developed by Spring Singapore and the Workforce Development Agency in consultation with industry stakeholders and unions.

Mr S. Iswaran said that the growth of the food services sector over the past years has been supported by a corresponding manpower increase, which is "not sustainable given the tight labour situation".

"The five-year food services SMP will support companies...guide the development of a manpower-lean sector, as well as nurture a skilled, productive and future-ready food services workforce."

The food services sector currently employs about 160,000 workers across 6,000 establishments, which is about 4.5 per cent of the nation's workforce.