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Retail sector employers can look forward to support in strengthening their capabilities to enhance jobs and business models, as part of the newly-announced five-year retail sectoral manpower plan (SMP).
In addition, employees and students can look forward to better learning and training opportunities.
The plan, second in the series of five SMPs to be rolled out by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), was announced by Manpower Minister, Lim Swee Say.
It was developed by SPRING Singapore and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) in consultation with industry stakeholders and unions.
It aims to build a future-ready retail workforce with skills to support the sector’s transformation.
4 initiatives to develop the retail workforce of the future
1. Encourage business remodelling and job redesign: The lack of know-how in job redesign has prevented retailers from restructuring their business models and jobs.
Under the SMP, a business remodelling and job redesign study will be conducted to identify skills and training needs for retail jobs of the future.
The findings will guide retailers in redesigning higher value-adding jobs and adopting leaner operating models.
2. Enhance core HR competencies: SPRING and WDA will support retailers on 100 HR capability projects, such as leadership development, compensation and benefits, and learning and development.
These were introduced to provide ITE and polytechnic students and fresh graduates with industry exposure, structured on-the-job training and sector-recognised certifications.
SPRING and WDA will launch more SkillsFuture Earn and Learn job roles, and work with retailers to test-bed new job roles for the EI to prepare interns for future skills needs.
4. Support continuous learning: The Skills Framework for Retail will be developed to map skills
needs with career progression pathways.
Programmes such as the SkillsFuture Study Award for Retail Sector and Leadership Development Initiative will also support the deepening of future skills.
SPRING and WDA will continue to collaborate with the retail sector and trade unions to address future skills needs, through the launch of new programmes, and enhancements to existing courses.
What else does the SMP entail?
E-commerce was identified as an area of opportunity, which allows cashiers and sales assistants to move into more value-adding roles as personal shoppers, fashion stylists and brand advocates.
In turn, this creates fresh job opportunities requiring new expertise such as digital marketing and data analytics.
Kee Ai Nah, group director for industry and enterprise at SPRING Singapore, noted: “We want retailers to attract and retain Singaporeans, and equip them with the right skill sets, as they continue to innovate to stay competitive.”
Janice Foo, director of the WDA’s tourism division, added: “With the Retail SMP, enterprises can focus on job redesign and creating stronger HR capabilities to attract talent and maximise employee capability.”
“Together with the industry and unions, emerging skills have been identified to support the new retail formats.”
Zalora’s group HR director Foo Chek Wee called out the government’s efforts in this area: “Across the world, not many governments have made sure their industries have a long-term plan – to proactively make sure we do this right. Here is a case where the government is doing it’s part.”
In taking this forward, he noted that success will require not two, but three hands to clap – referring to a tripartite relationship, in a conversation with Human Resources.
“This active collaboration will require the workers’ side, that is the NTUC; the government; and finally, the commercial side, represented by various chambers of commerce, such as SNEF – to come up with robust, actionable, and realistic sectoral plan,” he elaborated.
In his view, the government is already coordinating well, by getting the agencies to come together – and similar efforts are being made by the union representation.
He spoke about the potential for contribution of the commercial side: “There are so many of us in the industry – the challenge is in coming forth and saying we understand the government’s concern, and how we plan to increase the quality of our workforce, to improve national productivity.”
He added: “When it comes to a dialogue in the tripartite representation, if the commercial side comes together representing the businesses in this sector, it will become much more representative of the people on the ground.”