2 bodies to start training would-be hawkers

2 bodies to start training would-be hawkers

Singapore’s first official hawker training programme will start accepting students this month.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has selected two organisations here to help train more than 2,000 people over the next two years to work in hawker centres, foodcourts and other food shops.

One of them, social enterprise Project Dignity, will kick off the project this month with a module on interacting with patrons. More modules will be introduced in the next few months on topics such as food hygiene and ways to display dishes in stalls.

Project Dignity is also hiring hawkers to teach students how to cook basic street fare. The modules – which include lessons on prata, chicken rice and noodles – will be rolled out by June.

The modules will each last one to three days if taken full time. Each course – which comprises several modules – will cost up to $1,900 after subsidies from WDA.

Only Singaporeans and permanent residents qualify for these subsidies.

Project Dignity’s executive director Koh Seng Choon said: “We will also help graduates find jobs in foodcourts, hawker centres and other food shops.”

Eduquest International Institute, a training provider and the other selected organisation, is still finalising its programme but will impart skills such as table-side service, inventory maintenance and bookkeeping.

The two training programmes are meant to help Singapore meet a projected rise in demand for skilled manpower in the food and beverage industry.

Last year, the WDA said in its call for proposals for the programmes that new attractions here such as the River Safari and International Cruise Terminal will require trained staff in their food outlets.

It also noted a need to build “a pipeline of skilled hawkers” to fill the 10 new hawker centres to be built here in the next five years.

Some food operators, such as social enterprise NTUC Foodfare, said they would consider hiring graduates from the programmes.

NTUC Foodfare runs a chain of foodcourts, coffee shops, food kiosks, cafes and a catering service, and will manage the new Bukit Panjang hawker centre to be completed within three years.

“We haven’t had any discussions with the groups yet, but we’re definitely open to seeing how we can employ their graduates,” said its executive director Perry Ong.

“The only thing is that hawker stalls are typically tenanted out, so the decision to hire people will rest with the stall owners.”

Mr Danny Chong, who was part of a panel appointed by the Government in 2011 to rethink how hawker centres operate, said the project could help establish a minimum quality in Singapore’s street fare, especially among younger, more inexperienced hawkers.

To find out more about the Project Dignity programme, e-mail enquiry@projectdignity.sg