More Natas tourism scholarships from 2014

In a bid to attract more young people to work in the travel industry, the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) is handing out more scholarships from next year.

Institute of Technical Education, O-level and N-level graduates are eligible for a new scholarship which will help pay for their education at the Tourism Management Institute of Singapore (TMIS), a Natas subsidiary.

About 20 awards, worth up to $4,000 each, are up for grabs next year.

Natas has an existing scholarship scheme for outstanding polytechnic students keen to pursue a career in tourism.

The new scholarships are aimed at attracting talent to a sector faced with a manpower shortage that is expected to worsen. For example, some 12 hotels are due to open this year, all of which will need to be staffed.

The sector currently supports 160,000 jobs. The Singapore Tourism Board hopes to increase this figure to 250,000 by 2015.

"We hope this (new scholarship) will attract a younger workforce that has the commitment and passion to join the tourism industry," said Ms Patricia Auyeong, group acting chief executive of TMIS and Natas.

Last year, Natas also accredited nearly 200 travel agents in order to give them industry-wide recognition.

These agents had relevant work experience but no formal training in tourism. They were assessed on factors such as academic qualification, experience, training and testimonials.

The accreditation scheme was intended to push employees to upgrade themselves. Those who wish to be accredited but do not meet the criteria are encouraged to take certain modules to get to the next level.

A new programme by TMIS, to be rolled out in February next year, will also let experienced employees attain the nationally- endorsed Workforce Skills Qualification through a one-day assessment without having to take the usual four to six months of training, said Ms Auyeong.

Since its inception in 1987, more than 45,000 students have been trained at TMIS in Clemenceau Avenue, including the 317 who graduated on Friday.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.