|Labour woes not going away, S'pore hotels told to rethink design and business model.|
Friday, 11th April 2014
Source : Yeoh Siew Hoon
Hoteliers who came to Monday's Tourism Industry Conference hoping to get some relief from the tight labour crunch in Singapore walked away disappointed but resigned to the fact that they have to live, or die, with the situation.
Lionel Yeo (right), chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board, saved the bit everyone was waiting for till last when towards the end of his speech, he said it cannot be business as usual and the industry had to come to grips with the manpower challenge.
The tightening of foreign labour across all industries has led to a severe crunch with many hotels under-manned in the back of the house and the front line where it matters most to customer service.
The maturing pains of this 48, going on 49-year-old city state are evident when you visit hotels and restaurants – just not enough staff to face customers.
Having just returned from cities such as Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong in the last three months, I can see and feel the difference in service levels.
Yeo said there were two drivers to the manpower challenge. One, workforce growth in Singapore has been at 3.3% for the past 30 years but will slow down to 1-2% till 2020. The tourism workforce has grown 5.5% year on year since 2001.
"With even more hotel rooms coming onstream in the next few years, this situation will get worse if our industry does not transform. Based on our rough estimates, an additional shortfall of about 3,000 workers by 2017 is looming if we don't make adjustments. This is almost 10 per cent of the industry's current workforce."
There’s also an aspiration mismatch between what Singaporeans want and what the industry offers. Less than 30 per cent of jobs in the industry, going by the hotel sector sample, are PMET jobs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians), yet, more than 60 per cent of job-seekers by 2020 would want PMET jobs, he said.
“The industry needs to do more to attract Singaporeans,” he said.