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Speech at The Opening of the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies’ New Campus

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health , Manpower, The Lifelong Learning Institute

Mr Chan Lee Mun, Principal and CEO, Nanyang Polytechnic
Mr Goh Eng Ghee, Acting Chief Executive, Singapore Workforce Development Agency
Ladies and gentlemen

  1. It is my pleasure to join you today at the official opening of the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies’ (SIRS) new campus at the Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI). We have often said that Singapore has a vibrant retail industry. It is befitting that the facade of the national training institute to groom local retail specialists is similarly decked out in vibrant hues. I commend SIRS for going the extra mile to make this campus a lively and welcoming one.

    Retail Industry Must Continue to Evolve
  2. The retail industry has grown over the last 10 years. Corresponding with government focused efforts to develop Singapore as a preferred tourist and shopping destination, employment in the retail industry has increased by 34% over the decade to 163,000 persons across 21,000 establishments as at end December 2013.
  3. Retail is a key industry that has done well over the years. However, retailers are facing challenges in today’s operating environment given the tighter manpower conditions, rising rental costs, higher consumer expectations and increased regional competition. To address these challenges, retailers must continuously innovate to improve their products, services and processes. Technology can be an enabler to such innovation.
  4. Hence, SIRS has set up the Retail Innovation Centre for Enterprises (RICE). The first of its kind in Singapore, RICE is a one-stop innovation centre focused on delivering training and showcasing innovation options for the retail sector. RICE is intended to support the innovation by our local retailers through sharing practical technological concepts that can be adopted in the retail setting to raise productivity, overcome constraints of a tight labour market and enhance customer experience.
  5. An example of a practical technology application showcased within RICE is a mobile application using Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC allows consumers to browse a vivid display of the retail item and use their smartphones to purchase products without the assistance of a sales staff. I can imagine how this will delight customers, who may prefer self-service and like to have a fuss-free and quick buying process. Another interesting concept is the mobile Point-of-Sale (POS) solution deployed by Metro Private Limited. Staff could use portable machines to process credit card payments for customers, anywhere in the store. This POS solution allows retailers to cut down the number of staff manning a shop, and deliver a unique shopping experience with greater efficiency. This solution eases the need for dedicated payment counters, and will ease the checkout line while providing customers with a better shopping experience.
  6. Retailers who are ready to embrace the innovation challenge can approach RICE for assistance in the form of consultation, technology development and implementation. Training programmes and workshops are conducted in-house at RICE’s facilities located within LLI. I am happy to note that the SIRS has partnered the Singapore Productivity Centre to offer training programmes and workshops to train retail leaders, floor managers and retail assistants in using and implementing the technologies showcased at RICE at their workplaces. In other words, what we are saying is that help is available all the way, from selection of innovation possibilities to training personnel to use technological innovation on the actual shop front. This is what we would call ‘a good deal’!

    Many Hands to Help Shape Singapore’s CET Landscape
  7. SIRS has done much good work to support the government’s effort to build a pipeline of skilled manpower resources for the retail sector. Since its establishment in 2006 to date, SIRS has trained about 70,000 workers and achieved over 123,000 Statement of Attainments (SOA), and it endeavours to continue in its mission to train and groom more local retail specialists.
  8. I am pleased to announce that SIRS has been conferred the NCI status for Retail WSQ for a second term. WDA confers the National CET Institute (NCI) status to CET Centres that demonstrate high quality delivery and are committed to supporting workforce development programmes in the WSQ sectors it serves. I am confident that SIRS will continue to be the catalyst for change by shaping the future of the industry through quality training and serving as the role model for other WSQ providers.
  9. I congratulate SIRS on their official opening at LLI and the launch of RICE, and wish you every success. Thank you.