New programme to redesign better jobs for F&B front-line and operational staff

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo tours food manufacturing company Eurasia F&B on April 8, 2021.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo tours food manufacturing company Eurasia F&B on April 8, 2021.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Front-line and operational staff in the food service sector can now go on a training programme to help them expand their job scope and get higher pay.

The scheme, announced on Thursday (April 8), is slated to benefit 400 employees over the next two years and is part of a broader push to transform the food service sector.

An earlier version launched in February last year benefited around 1,000 food service workers from more than 30 companies.

These workers were trained to take on enhanced and less laborious roles. Some existing roles were merged to create new value-added ones, such as combining the tasks of server, cashier and hostess into a single service ambassador role.

Workers in the new roles may also have tasks that are supported by technology, such as e-payments.

The programme announced on Thursday will focus on helping staff in roles such as service crew, cashier and kitchen assistant take on higher-value jobs like service ambassadors and kitchen technicians.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, on a visit to food and beverage services firm Eurasia in Tuas, said: "For non-PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) roles, job seekers may be deterred by the work environment, physical demands and shift work.

"These are challenges but also opportunities. For job seekers, a willingness to reskill will be increasingly necessary. For employers, a willingness to redesign non-PMET roles and reskill existing or new staff will also be increasingly necessary."

Companies in the food service sector are transforming as they adopt digital processes such as self-ordering solutions, cashless payment systems and automation for food preparation, noted Workforce Singapore (WSG), the Singapore Productivity Centre and Enterprise Singapore in a joint statement.

These moves help firms enhance customer engagement and increase productivity, they said.

But these new technologies also mean that the nature of jobs has to change and some workers may need to be deployed to take on other roles.

Yet employers continue to face a manpower crunch that is only worsened by the pandemic and border closures.

"In order to attract and retain their local workforce, they need to transform and create quality jobs with improved wages and working conditions, which in turn helps reduce their reliance on foreign manpower," the agencies said.

"Hence, it is important for employers to redesign jobs and reskill their workers to support their business amid the changing operating environment."

Employers can get salary support for the duration of a worker's training, capped at three months.

The support goes up to 70 per cent of the worker's salary, capped at $2,000 a month, if the employee is under 40 years old. Those above 40 get support of up to 90 per cent of their salary, capped at $3,000 a month.

WSG chief executive Tan Choon Shian said: "As (food service companies) embrace digitalisation and adapt to the post-pandemic norm, we will continue to support them in this journey and help overcome their manpower challenges together - all whilst ensuring our Singaporean workers can look forward to more fulfilling and meaningful careers in the industry."