Is Singapore's food services industry losing manpower?

The city-state mulls on mass adoption of technologies.

It may not be long anymore before Singaporeans walk inside restos or cafes and find themselves being attended to by machines and robots as the city-state's food services industry suffers a crumbling workforce.

In his speech during the opening of Select Group's corporate headquarters, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam revealed that the food service sector is running out of manpower. Currently, only 160,000 workers or about 4.5% of Singapore's total workforce are employed in the industry. Including the hawker centres, the industry employs over 205,000 workers, or over 5% of total employment in the Lion City.

Food services is part of the domestically-oriented sector of the Singapore economy that has seen little productivity growth in the last 5 years.

"The industry has no choice but to change. We have to make progress in productivity, individually in each enterprise and across the industry. We have to work on the basis that there will be no further manpower growth in the industry," Tharman said.

A month ago, the city-state launched the first ever VendCafé in Anchorvale. According the Tharman, the response have been encouraging, with an average of 400 meals served per day in the first month.

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