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Lifestyle sector tapping govt schemes to ease labour crunch

Since 2017, more than 140 firms spanning F&B, retail and travel have made use of the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme

Jobseekers at an Adapt and Grow fair. In 2018, more than 400 Singaporeans found jobs within the lifestyle sector through Workforce Singapore's Adapt and Grow initiative. They include workers placed via the PCP for various industries.


WITHIN the services industry, the lifestyle sector - including food and beverage, retail and hotels - has been tapping government programmes to reduce labour reliance or find suitable manpower, with Workforce Singapore (WSG) releasing figures on the sector's take-up rate for schemes.

The lifestyle sector also includes MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), travel and tourism, and attractions.

As announced in Budget 2019, tighter foreign worker policy is on the way for services. The dependency ratio ceiling - the maximum share of foreign workers on work permits or S Passes in a firm's headcount - will be lowered from 40 per cent now to 38 per cent from Jan 1 next year, then to 35 per cent from Jan 1, 2020.

But the manpower-lean push began earlier. Since 2017, more than 140 lifestyle sector firms have tapped programmes under the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme, including grants for job redesign or productivity solutions.

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The WSG has also come up with job redesign frameworks for the food services and retail sectors. Since 2018, more than 250 firms have learnt about these frameworks via workshops held by the WSG and partners. These frameworks guide firms in diagnosing their business needs, job redesign, and implementation.

There is also the Capability Transfer Programme, which subsidises the cost of a firm either bringing in a foreign specialist to train and transfer capabilities to locals, or sending Singaporeans overseas to gain skills.

Since 2017, two lifestyle sector companies have tapped this. One of them is Cityneon Holdings, which brought in a specialist from its United States team to train staff in installing and operating interactive exhibitions.

While encouraging firms to go manpower-lean, the WSG also helps them fill existing vacancies.

In 2018, more than 400 locals found jobs in the lifestyle sector via the WSG's Adapt and Grow schemes. They include 19 workers (see amendment note) who were placed via the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Food Services Executive, which currently has 25 companies onboard as employers. This was in addition to eight workers who were placed in 2017.

Five mid-career switchers were hired by Soup Restaurant, which came onboard the PCP in 2018. They include a former retiree with a background in sales, and a former private hire driver who used to work in account and vendor management.

Another 24 workers (see amendment note) found jobs via the PCP for Professional Executive (Hotel Sector), which has 16 hotels onboard. This was in addition to 14 workers who were placed in 2017. Among them is Orchard Hotel Singapore, which has been part of the PCP since 2017 and has hired three mid-career executives through the programme.

Amendment note: Based on incorrect information from Workforce Singapore (WSG), an earlier version of the story said that in 2018, 24 workers were placed in jobs via the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Food Services Executive and 38 via the PCP for Professional Executive (Hotel Sector). WSG has clarified that the figures should be 19 and 24 respectively.

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