Companies in tourism, lifestyle get help to bounce back

18 career conversion programmes equipping workers in sector with digital, technical skills

Companies in the tourism and lifestyle service sector, hit hard by the pandemic, are getting help to bounce back, with more career conversion programmes launched to equip their workers with new skills.

The move has taken on greater urgency, with Singapore preparing to reopen its borders and welcome back international visitors whose needs have evolved.

Eighteen career conversion programmes have been launched for the tourism and lifestyle sector since January last year. These aim to equip workers with digital and technical skills, and help them take up new opportunities, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) yesterday.

MOM and WSG also pointed out that these sectors had to speed up their digitalisation plans after being hit hard by the pandemic, which saw visitor arrivals fall by 85.7 per cent last year and tourism receipts plunge 78.4 per cent in the first three quarters of last year.

Companies in the sector also had to harness technology to host virtual or hybrid events and meetings, offer virtual tours for consumers to explore travel destinations amid border restrictions, and deliver contactless services at physical places of interest.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said: "As a result, companies have also had to redesign their job roles and scopes to support some of these transformation initiatives, particularly in the realm of digitalisation." He was delivering the 24th jobs situation report yesterday.

Dr Tan added: "With companies preparing themselves for the eventual recovery of the sector, we expect demand for these career conversion programmes to remain strong."

From January last year to mid-August this year, more than 3,100 workers from over 200 companies enrolled in the programmes - up from 110 employees from 40 firms in 2019.

In total, there are now 23 such programmes for the tourism and lifestyle service sector. The programmes will benefit another 1,400 workers from this month to December next year.

OCBC Bank's head of treasury research and strategy Selena Ling said that the ability of workers to adopt and adapt to digitalisation and technology will be key to driving the recovery of the sector.

MOM and WSG noted that as the tourism and lifestyle services sector transforms, both new and existing workers need skills to deal with e-commerce, data analytics and digital sales and marketing.

Businesses can also tap grants, funds and bridging loans offered by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Enterprise Singapore to transform themselves.

Ms Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive of the policy and planning group at STB, said training and transformation will be key.

"Post-Covid-19, we do see that travel and tourism will evolve and take slightly different shapes. So during this time, we want to make sure that we work closely with our tourism companies to slowly pivot and transform, to ensure that they are future-ready," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2021, with the headline 'Companies in tourism, lifestyle get help to bounce back'. Subscribe