New skills frameworks for retail and food services

ST VIDEO: TIFFANY FUMIKO TAY

Guides launched to help job seekers, firms navigate new pathways created by use of tech

A shortage of manpower led Muthu's Curry to introduce tablets and watch-like "wearables" at its three restaurants earlier this year.

Customers can place orders through a tablet, while requests such as for water or the bill will show up as an alert on a device worn on servers' wrists.

Mr Srinivasan Ayyakannu, director of operations for Muthu's Currinary, which owns the restaurant, said the company invested about $250,000 on the technology and software.

"We wanted to improve efficiency due to manpower shortage... it reduces man-hours walking to and fro and servers have more time to interact with guests," he said.

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More businesses in the food services and retail sectors are using technology to beat manpower woes and boost productivity, which in turn requires new skills from workers.

To help job seekers get help identifying these, and employers to map clear career pathways and training needs of employees, new skills frameworks for the two industries were launched yesterday at an Adapt and Grow event held at the Lifelong Learning Institute.

The guides, available on the SkillsFuture website, were launched by Workforce Singapore (WSG), SkillsFuture Singapore and Spring Singapore as part of a government push for businesses to adopt innovative technologies and go lean on manpower.

As job roles are "redesigned", employees must upgrade or learn skills to remain relevant, the agencies said.

Speaking at the launch, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said food services and retail are key industries of the economy, contributing more than 3 per cent of gross domestic product and employing about 11 per cent of the workforce.

"Both industries have faced manpower constraints in recent years, but businesses are adjusting and overcoming the manpower hurdle, often through more intensive use of technology," she said.

Since 2010, more than 3,000 retail and food and beverage firms have invested in capability development, such as in digital services and automation.

The two-day event, which ends today, includes a career fair offering some 1,200 jobs from 34 firms and a showcase of tech solutions.

Furniture company Commune, one of the exhibitors, worked with IT company Dimension 5 to create a virtual reality program that allows customers to visualise and measure furniture pieces against the dimensions of their home.

Staff were trained to use the home-modelling software and the service was introduced to three of its four stores in Singapore last October. Commune chief executive Joshua Koh said the service has helped sales to increase by 20 per cent to 25 per cent year on year.

Mr Cyrus Ivan Subramaniam Krishna, 46, who was looking for a job as a restaurant manager at the career fair yesterday, said that his dream is to open his own cafe.

"It is important to keep upgrading your skills, especially in this job market, or you will lose out," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'New skills frameworks for retail and food services'. Print Edition | Subscribe