Hotel industry first to get five-year manpower plan under SkillsFuture

The One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

SINGAPORE - The $4 billion hotel industry here is the first sector to get a dedicated five-year manpower strategy, under the national drive to equip students and workers with industry- relevant skills.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say announced the sectoral manpower plan, part of SkillsFuture, on Friday. It lays out five initiatives to upgrade and retain workers for the industry:

- more structured internships, which are already underway;

- an Earn and Learn programme for polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students to gain qualifications while working in companies, which begins next year;

- SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative to groom senior management, which begins next year;

- SkillsFuture Study Awards of up to $5,000, which begins next year; and

- the Singapore Skills Framework, which will be rolled out by the first half of next year.

The skills framework highlights the emerging skills needed in the industry, such as big data and digital marketing, revenue optimisation and talent management, as well as career progression pathways available to workers from operations level through to leadership roles.

Mr Lim said the manpower strategy is important as new and upcoming hotels will take the number of hotel rooms here up by 20 per cent by 2020, which will push up demand for workers.

But the ageing workforce, tight foreign worker inflows and rising aspirations mean the supply of rank-and-file workers - who take up around 65 per cent of jobs in the hotel industry - will grow at a slower rate.

"If we maintain that better service is only possible with more manpower, there will be no way out of this manpower bottleneck," said Mr Lim at the launch of the plan at One Farrer Hotel and Spa in Farrer Park.

"But if we are prepared to change our mindset, set the pace for change and strive for better service with leaner manpower, we will not only have breakthrough in the short term, but also sustainable growth for the long term."

A total of 32 hotels and two hotel groups were presented awards at the event for signing up for the first earn and learn programme, which provides on-the-job training for fresh hires from polytechnics while they study for a higher qualification. A similar programme for ITE graduates is also in the pipeline.

Sectoral manpower plans will also be rolled out for the social services, early childhood care and education, healthcare, retail and food services, and biopharmaceutical sectors.

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