Bartender 4.0 Symposium 2022
Words by W. Ling

The Journey Thus Far

It has been another great year for our local bar scene, with Singapore taking 11 spots on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 list, Jigger & Pony retaining its second place, MO Bar earning Nikka’s Highest Climber Award, and local boy Colin Chia of Nutmeg & Clove bagging the Roku Industry Icon Award.

The alcoholic drinks industry has been in constant growth. According to Statista Market Forecast, the industry’s annual revenue for 2022 stands at SGD 3623 million, with an annual growth forecast of 12.1%. Along with this growth, consumers are now in search of innovative, adventurous concoctions, and immersive experiences that tingle all the senses. This evolution does not happen overnight. It comes with years of hard work, constant study and experimentation. 

Back in 2019, the then Chairman of the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Health Minister, Mr Ong Ye Kung, recognised the need to push for better career prospects and opportunities for employees of the industry. This evolved into a dynamic long-term partnership between e2i, the Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS) and Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU). 

From a series of surveys, and using information from over 100 industry professionals, the Bartender 4.0 initiative was borne. Bartender 4.0 is an archetype under NTUC’s Worker 4.0. It trains workers to be adaptive, possess job-specific technical skills, and be equipped with knowledge of the technology available, which will enable them to face future challenges of competition and ever-changing consumer preferences.

To help bartenders thrive, increase the vibrancy of Singapore’s bar scene, and help bartenders and mixologists create a comprehensive learning roadmap, e2i’s consumer services team immediately started extensive outreach-networking collaborations with local and international bodies, developing training and placement opportunities, and embarked on intensive media awareness and recognition programmes. 

Asia’s Best Bars Japan Bar Benfiddich Owner Kayama and guests

In 2019, e2i invited Japan’s Bar Benfiddich, named one of the World’s 50 Best Bars from 2018, and fellow World’s 50 Best Bars, Hong Kong’s Quinary Bar, together with Singapore’s very own Native Bar, to conduct Masterclass Workshops and the 1st Cocktail Pairing Dinner, supported by industry experts and partners. The workshops gave industry practitioners a platform to connect with industry experts, facilitating knowledge exchange with Master Mixologists across the region.

MOU signing between e2i and Association of Bartenders China, União de Bartenders e Cocktails de Macau, and Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore

On 7 October 2020, an MOU was signed between e2i and three bartending associations – Association of Bartenders China, União de Bartenders e Cocktails de Macau, and Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore. The two-year collaboration will see the associations from the three countries share their resources and skills to further elevate the bartending industry. This includes opportunities for inter-country exchanges, Master Mixologist workshops and cocktail pairing dinners involving China, Macau and Singapore.

It marks the first of its kind in a cooperative effort within Asia and towards the development of International Bartender 4.0.

As part of the training and placement programmes, e2i partners with organisations such as Republic Polytechnic, together with ABSS to curate training programmes to address skills gaps in the bartending industry. ABSS also created Bartender 4.0 e-training videos that have garnered over 12,000 views in 2 months. In efforts to address manpower shortages and tackle skills gaps amongst job-seekers interested in taking on new career paths, e2i connects with and provides aid to companies in placement and productivity aspects through various initiatives such as Career Conversion Programme and Professional Development.

Bartender 4.0 Comic Strip

To raise awareness and elevate the profile of Bartender 4.0, the e2i consumer services team partnered with several prominent media platforms, visual artists and media producers such as Wine & Dine magazine, Evacomics, Better Together, and one of Singapore’s oldest radio powerhouses Capital 95.8FM. For NTUC’s 60th Anniversary, ABSS created a special cocktail with the approval of NTUC’s Secretary General Mr Ng Chee Meng. A unique cocktail was also created to celebrate e2i’s 10th Anniversary.

In 2020, the inaugural National Cocktail Competition (NCC) was held at the e2i events hall. The NCC is yet another platform for local bartenders to showcase their skills and the finalists are given the opportunity to represent Singapore at the annual Asia-Pacific Cocktail Competition.

Bartender 4.0 Symposium 2022
National Cocktail Championship Finals 2022

With the wrap of the recent Bartender 4.0 Symposium 2020 in July, NTUC’s e2i will continue to be the champion for workers, and drive Bartender 4.0 initiatives, creating better jobs for better lives one worker at a time.

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