Hawkers-in-training to get chance at university courses

The first batch of Hawker Master trainees serving the dishes they have learnt at Project Dignity.
The first batch of Hawker Master trainees serving the dishes they have learnt at Project Dignity.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Hawkers trained by a social enterprise will soon get the chance to go to university, giving them an edge for when they strike out in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

Private university UniSIM on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with social enterprise Project Dignity, which will give those who have gone through practical culinary training with the latter the chance to read university level courses at UniSIM.

Project Dignity runs Dignity Kitchen, which trains the socially and physically disadvantaged to work in the F&B industry.

It also offers a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programme in culinary arts, which gives participants a foundation in food safety and hygiene, and cooking techniques.

Those who get this certification will be able to apply for UniSIM courses to pick up academic knowledge that will give them an advantage when they enter the F&B industry.

These courses, which are currently funded up to 55 per cent by the Government, include subjects such as financial management, supply chain control, human resources or customer relations.

Assoc Prof Teng Su Ching, who is director of UniSIM's Centre for Continuing and Professional Education, said: "This collaboration is in line with the nationwide SkillsFuture initiative.

"It is important to transfer skills and knowledge of the hawker trade before it dies out. These participants will already have practical experience of managing a hawker stall, but we are scaling them up to set up a cafe, manage a food court, or run an F&B franchise."

She added that they have not yet confirmed how many participants will be involved in the collaboration, which will start in six months.

Project Dignity's WSQ course has seen 1,000 able-bodied and 350 disabled participants since it started in 2013.