In a bid to nurture a more efficient and skilled Singaporean core, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower has announced the first of five manpower sectoral plans to equip students and workers with industry- relevant skills.

On Friday, the island nation's Minister for Manpower, Lim Swee Say launched the Hotel Sectoral Manpower Plan (SMP) under the SkillsFuture initiative.

The SMP is aimed towards overcoming the talent shortages currently present within the hotel industry.

Lim identified that by 2020, the number of hotel rooms in the country will increase by more than 20%, requiring more manpower to lead this change.

On the other hand, low unemployment and high employment rates, ageing workforce and rising aspiration, will lead to a slow local workforce growth, especially at the rank-and-file level.

Putting the two together, Lim warned that such condition would lead to a higher increase in demand and lower growth in supply, resulting in a "stark" talent challenge for the hotel industry.

"This is why in this SMP for the Hotel Industry, we recognise that the old model of manpower-led growth is no longer sustainable. Instead, we need to become more manpower lean," Lim explained.

"To succeed in strengthening our Singaporean Core, we need to create more and better career opportunities for Singaporeans to move into at all levels: from internship for students, to first jobs for new graduates, skills upgrading, updating and conversion for mid-career, and leadership development for high potential. "

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In line with this aim, he rolled out several initiatives under the SMP to upgrade and retain workers from the industry.

These included a SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative for the hotel sector, which is aimed towards grooming future talents for senior to top positions.

"We can customise the programme according to your needs so as to provide holistic development and global exposure to our future industry leaders," Lim added.

Other initiatives included enhanced internships for polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students for students to better connect their learning to the workplace.

In addition, Lim announced the SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programme will be rolled out in 2016 for polytechnic graduates to acquire the Specialist Diploma in Hospitality Business Management.

Soon after that, ITE graduates will also be able to participate in the SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programme.

Lastly, he added that SkillsFuture Study Awards will be offered to support those in the early to mid-career to deepen their core skills.

"If we maintain that better service is only possible with more manpower, there will be no way out of this manpower bottleneck," Lim stated.

"But if we are prepared to change our mindset, set the pace for change and strive for better service with leaner manpower, we will not only have breakthrough in the short term, but also sustainable growth for the long term."

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