Tuesday 19 July 2011

Wait… where’s the service staff?

The staff crunch at eateries is so bad that restaurateurs have had to cut back their operating hours
By Rebecca Lynne Tan, The Straits Times, 10 Jul 2011

Do not be surprised the next time you go into your favourite restaurant and see its owner clearing tables.

Restaurateurs here are facing such severe service staff crunches that some are having to double as runners, delivering food to tables and helping to clear them.

Some have also had to limit operating hours or close off seating sections to cope with the manpower shortage.

When LifeStyle visited newly opened bistro-restaurant The Dempsey Brasserie in Dempsey Hill two weeks ago, the owners were seen pouring drinks behind the bar counter and clearing tables.

Opening hours have been cut too – it is open only for dinner on weeknights, but all day on weekends.

Says the restaurant’s co-owner Terence Tan, 40: ‘I can’t even begin to open for breakfast or lunch on weekdays – we just don’t have the capacity to, in spite of having advertised for staff.’

Over at two-week-old eatery Wild Oats at Punggol Park, its chef-owner Willin Low, 39, had to enlist the help of five friends last weekend to clear tables and serve food. The group, which included bankers and marketing managers, worked an average of five hours each night over Saturday, Sunday and Monday night.

Chef Low says: ‘We probably need about 15 service staff to run our Punggol Park outlet smoothly, but that weekend, we had only eight wait staff.’

He adds that he had to close a third of the 300-seater restaurant because of his staff shortage.

F&B players blame it on the tight labour market.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Lee Kuan Yew on foreign talent in Singapore: South Asian Diaspora Convention 2011

‘Singapore can’t punch above its own weight if it depends on local talent’
By S Ramesh, TODAY, 23 Jul 2011

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday Singapore would not be able to punch above its own weight if it were to depend on talent from its own population. He was speaking at a dialogue to wrap up the two-day South Asian Diaspora convention here.

DBS Bank CEO Piyush Gupta posed a question to Mr Lee, asking just how big the issue of attracting foreign talent in Singapore is, having noted that it was a hot topic during the recent General Election.

Mr Lee felt it was an issue among Singaporeans even before the election. He said: “For some time, the Singaporean has felt the competition from talented foreigners. But these are people who have come here to become our citizens and I am a firm believer that the more talent that you have in a society, the better the society will grow.

“If Singapore depends on the talent it can produce out of 3 million people, it’s not going to punch above its weight.

“It’s because we have been drawing talent from across the globe — South Asia, North-east Asia, China, India and beyond that — you have a vibrant economy which is way beyond what 3 million Singaporeans with the talent they can produce can do.

“So you’ve got to accept the discomfort which the local citizens feel, that they are competing unequally for jobs. (It) cannot be helped.

“But without them, the jobs will not be there to begin with. So welcome talent and we’ll continue to welcome talent.”

When asked how the political problem associated with the foreign talent issue could be managed, Mr Lee said: “You just have to assuage it.

“What is the choice — slow growth with no input of talent or faster growth with input of talent and the feeling that some of the top jobs are going to the foreigners? You may get no jobs at all if there were no growth.”

Too full of oneself

Delusional Singaporeans have a long way to go.....

Singaporeans 'could be more gracious'
by Carolyn Quek, TODAY, 5 Jul 2011

Singaporeans think themselves kinder and more gracious than their fellow citizens, according to the latest poll conducted by the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).

The findings, in the words of SKM general manager William Wan, indicate "an unhealthy level of self-centredness and self-absorption" among Singaporeans.

The SKM was set up in 1997 to make the nation a kinder place and the findings of its third State of Graciousness survey, released yesterday, revealed that more than 40 per cent of the 1,404 respondents thought they were gracious, but only 15 per cent felt the same of others.

Almost nine in 10 felt they had performed a kind deed in the past six months. In contrast, half felt they had been the beneficiary of another's kindness.

Describing the "big perception gap" as surprising, Dr Wan added that the poll also showed that Singaporeans are "not being aware of and not appreciating the efforts of others".

Another surprise for the movement: Foreigners had a better impression of the Republic as a gracious society than Singaporeans did.