Four in 10 jobs in the food services industry need to be redesigned over the next three years, to make the sector attractive to Singaporeans so that it can remain vibrant.
Moderate to extensive changes will be needed to increase the scope and responsibilities of roles, in response to a shortage of workers and technology advancements.
Jobs identified for redesign include service crew and kitchen assistant roles, as well as executive chef, operations director and multi-outlet manager.
These developments come under a Jobs Transformation Map (JTM) for the food services sector that was announced by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling on Thursday at Restaurant Asia 2023, a three-day food and beverage (F&B) symposium and trade show at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), Workforce Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore and the Manpower Ministry with professional services firm Ernst & Young, the road map recommends strategies for employers and workers to enhance their competitiveness and capabilities.
"The JTM will serve as a compass to guide companies and workers in their job transformation journey... It will help them prepare for the future of work in the food services sector as the business environment evolves," said Ms Low, noting that the industry contributed $4.5 billion to Singapore's economy and employed about 235,000 workers in 2022.
According to the Department of Statistics, the sector comprises close to 12,000 F&B companies, from home-grown brands to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Ms Low said that besides a shift in consumer preferences towards convenience, personalised and experiential services, and awareness of sustainable practices, the rate of technology adoption has accelerated due to the pandemic.
An ageing workforce and changing career aspirations have also led to greater competition for workers, resulting in the need for firms to redesign jobs and explore options such as part-time workers, she added.
In a statement, EnterpriseSG noted that the sector faces a shortage of workers for lower-skilled jobs. Hence, firms have increasingly tapped alternative labour options, technology and job redesign to stay competitive.
Findings from the JTM, which assessed 30 significant job roles in the food services sector, showed that 40 per cent of these roles are expected to undergo a medium or high degree of change and require extensive to moderate redesign.
Roles that require a high degree of change are those of service crew and kitchen assistant. EnterpriseSG said these can be adapted to become more cross-functional, like an operations associate role.
Roles that may experience a lesser degree of change include executive chef, operations director and multi-outlet manager.
Skills in demand include those in business management and customer experience, and creative technical skills, said EnterpriseSG.
Businesses, however, are facing more immediate challenges.
"Everyone thought everything would go back to normal (after the pandemic), but people are travelling more and not going out as much," noted Timbre Group chief executive Danny Loong in a panel during Restaurant Asia on Thursday. "The reality is that it has been more challenging this year."
It was a sentiment echoed by Harry's International chief executive Nasen Thiagarajan, who said footfall has been dipping.
"This is maybe due to people working from home on Fridays," said Mr Thiagarajan, adding that the focus has shifted to improving the quality of customer experience.
Companies can tap the Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant for consultancy services to redesign work processes, tasks and responsibilities. The grant provides up to 70 per cent funding support.
The JTM follows on from the Food Services Industry Transformation Map 2025 announced by Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong in 2022, and the Food Services Industry Digital Plan launched in November 2022.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.