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Speech by Second Minister For Manpower Josephine Teo

, Devan Nair Institute

Good Afternoon,

Mr Albert Teo, President, SHA

Mr Tan Hock Soon, GS FDAWU

Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO e2i

Mr Goh Eng Ghee, DCE WSG

  1. I am pleased to join you here today.
  2. Hotel Industry is the backbone of our tourism sector. It accounts for about 4% of our GDP. This sector is growing with more hotel properties being added.
  3. What does this mean to us? This means that more jobs are created.
  4. Behind each hotel are the Hotel staff who are very important not just to customer experience, but they are one of the first few ambassadors of Singapore.
  5. However, we must also meet the Manpower Challenge. Recruiters must find fresh responses to two trend; an aging workforce; changing aspirations.
  6. In order to meet the manpower demand and sustain industry growth at the same time, we suggest four-pronged approach for hotels to overcome manpower challenges.
  7. (A) Raise productivity by adopting manpower-lean business models. This will often involve a redesign of existing work processes and operations
  8. Aim is to make jobs higher-skilled and less labour-intensive
  9. Take for example, job redesign in a hotel: Security in Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium. Previously, security officers need to manually sign-in of visitors, suppliers and staff. Today, the hotel has replaced it with the auto-gate and clocking system which uses face recognition technology. There is no longer a need to manually issue passes to regular visitors and staff. The information has been stored in the system, and this is linked to staff scheduling system: easier to track staff movements.
  10. The hotel then redesigned the jobs in the security department where Security officers retrained to also handle the call centre calls.
  11. Call centre operators trained to monitor security overview footage through additional CCTV in the hotel.
  12. Staff in both departments can be flexibly redeployed across one another.
  13. As a result, Security staffing was reduced by 20%. This manpower-lean project good example among many implemented with help of e2i
  14. In fact, more hotels are tapping on schemes by e2i, WSG, and STB to become more manpower-lean.
  15. There are over 60 such projects in 2016. For the first half of 2017, they already have 62 projects in progress.
  16. There are many low-hanging fruits like the Holiday Inn project and we hope more hotels will become more lean.
  17. (B) We must also invest in People Development by upskilling and reskilling current workforce. There are always new and better ways to deliver great customer service and job roles can also be redefined, with new skills needed.
  18. Last September, at the inaugural Hotel Day, we introduced the Skills Framework for Hotel & Accommodation Services.
  19. Since then, more than 20 hotel employers such as Four Seasons Singapore and One Farrer Hotel & Spa, have come onboard to adopt the Skills Framework as a training tool for staff. 
  20. We must encourage more hotels to review their people development programmes and make use of the Skills Framework.
  21. (3) We must also adopt Progressive HR practices to make workplace more inclusive and more employee-centric
  22. Attrition is a cost to all employers and it affects productivity and hotels need to expend resources to recruit and train new hires.
  23. We can do that by improving recruitment and retention by fostering a positive and inclusive workplace culture where employees feel cared for, engaged and have opportunity to grow
  24. Take for example, a HC Partner:  Four Points by Sheraton Singapore (Riverview)
  25. They have introduced a cross training programme to expose employees to two different departments. This way, employees develop better understanding of other colleagues’ challenges and stand in for one another when necessary.
  26. The hotel can now readily deploy these employees across departments.
  27. They also welcome retired associates to continue working, with flexible work arrangements. As a result? Staff retention has improved.
  28. (D) Participate in Adapt & Grow programmes to tap on bigger manpower resource pools.
  29. There are a suite of Adapt & Grow programmes for employers to bring in talent and meet hiring needs.
  30. These employment and wage support programmes also help Singaporeans to reskill and enter new jobs.
  31. One example is the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP).
  32. One example of a PCP Candidate, Ms Ira Ng.
  33. When she started out, Ira was able to pursue her passion to be a dancer.
  34. Sadly, her dreams were cut short by an injury. Her subsequent role as a dance coach also did not quite work out.
  35. She became a Finance officer but she did not get a sense of fulfillment.
  36. She believed she had a knack for knowing what people want and helping them get it. In industry jargon, you can say she wanted to be able to design and customize the customer experience. Ira believed hotels could offer what she wanted.
  37. She took the initiative and approached Amara Singapore despite having no prior experience working in the sector.
  38. Amara need not have given Ira a chance since she had no prior work experience that was relevant to her new role as a Hotel Sales Manager.

    But they decided to try, and in fact helped to ease her entry into the job by signing her up for the PCP for Professional Executives (Hotel Industry).
  39. Ira found the PCP helpful in confirming her hunch that she has found her calling; she is doing well.
  40. In sports lingo, she’s now “in the zone”, getting lots of praise from customers and exceeding sales targets. Great for Ira; great for Amara.
  41. Whilst we hear good testimonies like that of Ms Ng’s, uptake of our Adapt & Grow Programmes in the Hotels industry remains slow.
  42. Many hotels are still missing out of the opportunity to find talents like Ira, mature PMETs or mid-career switchers who bring with them a wealth of work experience and transferable skills.
  43. In fact, we want to help more jobseekers like Ira discover what the hotel industry can offer them.
  44. Today, we are launching the Adapt & Grow SkillsFuture Career Advisors Programme for the Hotel Industry.
  45. This programme gives hotel employers a platform to reach out to interested jobseekers and provide them with insight and advice on hotel careers; Help jobseekers set realistic expectations about jobs in the hotel industry before they take the plunge. So for a start, we have a group of 20 industry veterans coming forward as Career Advisors.
  46. Take for example, Sharon See, a career advisor. Sharon has been with Sheraton Towers for more than 30 years. She has a wealth of experience that spans across several departments! She started her career in Purchasing, held senior position in the Rooms and now she is the Director of Group Purchasing.
  47. Sharon found her niche and readily came onboard to help other jobseekers find out if hotels could be their too.
  48. I thank the pioneer batch of Career Advisors for volunteering their time and the employers for their support of the programme.
  49. We will have at least three Career Advisory Sessions within the year and we hope that more hotels and veterans will come onboard.
  50. Four-pronged approach by no means the only way for hotel employers to improve your attractiveness to jobseekers and employees. But they offer a practical response to the challenges of recruitment and retention. The Government through WSG and STB, and even e2i, is here to help.

    Thank you.