SPRING Singapore has been partnering with Trade Associations & Chambers (TAC) and educational institutions to recruit talent for growing SMEs
Singapore’s food and beverage (F&B) scene is thriving. It has a vibrant range of establishments that support the island’s mix of cultures, from traditional eateries and fast-food joints to modern bar and restaurant concepts. It’s also a fast-growing industry, with the number of F&B companies increasing by 1.2% to 6,750 businesses between 2012 and 2013. Yet despite its success, the industry must deal with ongoing manpower issues.
“There’s a common misconception among young people that a job in the F&B industry means working in harsh conditions,” says Ms Lim Rui Shan, Executive Director, Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS). “But the working environment has changed.
Kitchens and restaurants are more modern nowadays and restaurant owners are increasingly investing their efforts in staff training.”
The RAS is one of seven TACs that joined SPRING Singapore’s SME Talent Programme (STP) to bridge the gap between young talent and SME employers. The STP helps SMEs attract young talents from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics and universities, through student internships, study sponsorship and fresh hire training.
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Filling The Talent Gap
“The support provided by SPRING helps SMEs invest in young talent, which are an important resource because they bring new ideas, skills and enthusiasm, and can help to propel their businesses to the next level,” says Ms Lim.
To date, the association has placed 92 students with 23 companies. “The success of the RAS in matching students and enterprises is proof that more young talents are considering careers with SMEs, especially in the F&B sector,” adds Ms Lim.
Through the STP, the RAS has been able to build stronger partnerships with the various Institutes of Higher Learning, as well as reach a wider number of students through jobs fairs and field trips.
“We bring students to F&B companies to let them gain first-hand experience of the real working environment,” Ms Lim adds. “This way, they can make better and more informed choices about whether this dynamic industry matches their aspirations.”
Improving HR Capabilities
As a key partner of SPRING, the RAS plays an active role in identifying suitable SMEs for the programme. Ms Lim says the criteria that SMEs need to meet is very strict, with preference given to companies that look after the career progression and skills upgrading of their staff.
“The STP requires companies to look closely at their human resources and training policies to ensure they have a robust system in place that supports and nurtures these young talents,” she explains.
JP Pepperdine, the home-grown company behind restaurants such as Jack’s Place and Restaurant Hoshigaoka, is a veteran establishment in Singapore and is committed to investing in the training and development of its staff.
“We provide on-the-job training and work closely with external training providers to boost the skills and capabilities of our team,” says Ms Val Teo, HR Manager, JP Pepperdine. “We have also created three-year development plans for staff who have shown that they are passionate about pursuing a career in the F&B sector.”
The RAS hopes to match a total of 170 students to F&B companies by the end of this year. Ms Lim says, “In the long term, these talents will help to improve the overall standards of the industry, which is critical in attracting people to join us.”
Since 2013, 420 SMEs from various industries have come on board the STP , with more than 500 students benefiting from internship opportunities and 450 young talents being matched through study sponsorships and fresh graduate hires.