Can Singapore’s human resources crunch spark a robot revolution?

(From Reuters)

Sherine Toh says her best days at work are when none of the 600-or-so staff at Singapore’s Tung Lok Restaurants quits, though such days are rare.

The Chinese restaurant group is one of the thousands of businesses struggling with a labor crunch caused by foreign worker curbs, that threaten the city-state’s already feeble growth rates.

A robot collects dishes to be cleaned at Chilli Padi Nonya Cafe in Singapore July 6, 2016. Picture taken July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

A robot collects dishes to be cleaned at Chilli Padi Nonya Cafe in Singapore July 6, 2016. Picture taken July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

“It has gotten much more tougher compared to the old days, five years back,” said Toh, who has at least 20 vacancies to fill at any one time as head of human resources. The group closed some outlets because of the shortage.

The city’s restaurants, hotels and retailers have become the biggest casualties of the labor crunch since Singapore accelerated restrictions on foreign workers in 2011 as political disquiet about immigration grew. But its highly-educated locals largely shun the late hours and unglamorous work. To address the constraints, Singapore is pushing businesses to look to non-human solutions for their human resource challenges, including greater use of automation and robotics. Read More



Categories: Asia Unhedged, Southeast Asia

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