The manpower shortage in the service industry is biting really hard ("What ails the service industry?" by Miss Christine Chan Simin; last Wednesday).
Retailers and food and beverage operators, in particular, are reluctant to expand - not because of financial constraints but because of staffing considerations.
Productivity schemes and incentives, while laudable, have their limitations. Also, the Ministry of Manpower is unlikely to change its current manpower policies or make concessions.
One source of manpower that is not being tapped in a systematic and organised fashion is students at the upper secondary to tertiary levels.
Representatives from the service industry ought to work with the Education Ministry to develop and promote a culture of part-time work.
To allay parents' fears that part-time work could distract students from their studies, the ministry could consider granting credits or points for working part-time, which will count towards their co-curricular activity (CCA) grades.
Both parties should formalise a plan on credits, flexible working hours and other employment terms.
Students who have gone through the programme should also be given favourable consideration when applying for full-time jobs.
Such a scheme would help to alleviate manpower problems in the service industry, gain CCA credits for the students, and also let them earn pocket money.
More importantly, students will gain exposure to the working world and embark on a journey of character-building.
Some students are already doing part-time work. I salute them, especially those who are sacrificing their weekends to serve us.
Letter by Michael Leong
This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.