A TOTAL of S$265 million (US$210 million) will be invested by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to help the country’s tourism industry stakeholders build up their manpower capabilities.
The funds are part of STB’s S$905 million budget for industry development over the next five years, and will go towards supporting various tourism-related education and skill-upgrading initiatives.
According to S Iswaran, second minister of trade and industry, STB will build on basic tourism-related courses already offered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and Employment and Employability Institute, and ramp up advanced specialist training in key areas such as conference management and attractions operation.
“These are timely interventions that complement what we are doing on the hardware side with business travel and MICE infrastructure, such as the new MAX Atria (Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre’s new conference centre) and our pipeline of new attractions,” he said.
Neeta Lachmandas-Sakellariou, assistant chief executive, STB confirmed that the training programmes would “spread across all spectrums” of the industry. Tourism-related scholarships will also be rolled out to groom the next generation of industry leaders.
MICE practitioners whom TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to were of the opinion that much more effort was needed to boost talent development and retention, especially in light of increasing regional competition.
“We need new blood to replace the old guard,” said a local MICE educator. “We (Singapore) can build the best infrastructure, but so can other destinations. Where will we stand without soft skills? Malaysia is investing a lot into raising MICE knowledge and improving skills of professionals, not just providing entry-level certification courses.”
According to Andy Nazarechuk, president, Asia-Pacific Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education, managerial-level tourism-related training programmes, as well as MICE-specific courses were lacking in Singapore.
“There are MICE training courses for professionals, but these are not easily accessible. MICE professionals are faced with time constraints – they have to work – and cannot afford to take two or three years to complete a course,” he said.
“They want courses that allow them to learn and interact with others from the trade, so they can network and share ideas.”