A PROGRAMME to help businesses draw upon part-time workers is being beefed up to ease the labour shortfall, particularly in the retail and F&B industries.

Spring Singapore and the Workforce Development Agency's part-time pool programme will be expanded to include the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) and the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS).

This was announced yesterday by Mr S. Iswaran, the Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Home Affairs, at the SRA Ball 2012. It was held at the Raffles City Convention Centre, where six retail awards and five retail scholarships were handed out. With the inclusion of the SRA and RAS, this pool is set to reach 2,000 part-timers in the next two years. A further 3,000 part-timers from other industries will also benefit.

Mr Iswaran said the pilot programme, launched in Dec 2010, attracted almost 2,500 part-timers from 100 companies.

"At approximately $41,700 per worker, our nominal value-added figure per worker lags behind that of other cities such as New York and Hong Kong," he said. "This means there is much scope for productivity improvement. And the Government is determined in its commitment to support our businesses in raising their productivity levels."

Part-timers under the programme will be provided with training and benefits through an employment contract with the relevant manpower service provider or association. Those who apply will pay about $20 per person, or 10 per cent of the cost of training after a 90 per cent sponsorship by Spring Singapore.

Ms Valecia Lee, the senior human resource manager of sporting goods retailer RSH Limited, said the company has benefited from the programme. "It really helps that staff are trained well and come to work prepared."