Food manufacturing gets boost from skills framework

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing will help to raise the skills of workers in the sector.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing will help to raise the skills of workers in the sector. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Aim is to build strong talent pool in sector by identifying career pathways and skills needed

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday rolled out the skills framework to support manpower development in the food manufacturing sector.

Speaking at the official opening of home-grown food flavour manufacturer KH Roberts' integrated manufacturing facility, he said the Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing will help to raise the skills of workers in the sector.

It aims to build and maintain a strong talent pool in food manufacturing. This is done by identifying job roles, career pathways and emerging skills required for food manufacturing.

"We believe that food manufacturing can be a competitive advantage for Singapore," Mr Chan said.

"This may not be obvious to others who see us as a land-scarce and labour-tight market. But it is because we are land scarce and labour tight that we no longer want to compete on the basis of price. We want to compete on the quality of our workers."

The skills framework is an integral part of the Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map, which is in turn part of a $4.5 billion government programme to develop road maps for 23 industries to address issues in each industry - and to deepen partnerships between the Government, firms, industries, and trade associations and chambers.

Launched in 2016, the skills framework is co-created by SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and Enterprise Singapore, together with employers, industry associations, and education and training providers, as well as the unions.

The goal is to eventually build up the talent pool in over 20 sectors, including infocomm technology, aerospace, retail, food services, accountancy, logistics, electronics and food manufacturing.

The skills framework also provides a list of training programmes for skills upgrading and mastery.

The Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union and the Singapore Institute of Food Science and Technology in the food manufacturing sector are collaborating to introduce masterclasses to familiarise professionals with the emerging skills identified by the framework.

The Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing is targeted at workers wishing to join or progress with the food manufacturing sector. Within the framework, they can assess their career interest, identify relevant training programmes to upgrade their skills and prepare for their desired jobs.

Employers will be able to recognise these skills and invest in training their employees for career development and skills upgrading.

Education and training providers can gain insights on sector trends and existing and emerging skills that are in demand, and design programmes to meet the sector needs accordingly.

At the same time, the Government, unions and professional bodies can analyse the skills gap and offer appropriate SkillsFuture initiatives to upgrade talent and professionalise the sector.

In his speech at KH Roberts, which was also celebrating its 50th anniversary, Mr Chan said workers, along with building up their skills, are one of five "ingredients" for the company's success.

The other four are internationalisation, innovation, quality assurance and collaboration.

Mr Chan said companies need to venture abroad to seek a much bigger market.

And because they expand overseas, they must innovate and engage in research and development to keep up with changing market needs.

He pointed to KH Roberts' new integrated manufacturing facility as an example. It features a $3.2 million automated liquid flavour distribution-and-dispensing system.

The system was designed for high-mix, low-volume production to better support every customer's needs, big or small. This has helped to give KH Roberts a competitive edge.

On quality assurance, Mr Chan said it is critical to get market acceptance of food products, especially in overseas markets. "Going ahead, this would become an increasingly important competitive advantage for companies like KH Roberts."

And on collaboration, he said it is key to having access to advanced technologies and unlocking new channels for food innovation. The collaboration is not just with customers, but also with partners in Singapore. "And this is why I am very cheered to see how they (KH Roberts) have worked with the government agencies and other partners in Singapore to do their research collaboration, to share their facilities, to share their outcomes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Food manufacturing gets boost from skills framework'. Print Edition | Subscribe