Starbucks serves up tech training for 2,000

The retail coffee chain is upskilling its employees, getting them ready for a raft of new innovations in the market.
By: | December 13, 2019

While coffee may have been around for more than a thousand years, the way we pay for it and consume it is changing all the time. Starbucks, the biggest name in coffee, is on a mission to modernize its operations. Its latest innovation is a new Mobile Order & Pay (MO&P) feature that allows customers to beat the queue by ordering, customizing and paying for their drinks on the Starbucks Singapore app.

But with every new innovation comes a need to train staff in how to adopt it and use it effectively in the workplace. So with MO&P, partners (that’s what Starbucks calls its employees) will need to adapt to a new way of managing orders as well as the in-store queue.

So the US-headquartered coffee giant has joined forces with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to build a digitally empowered workforce for the future. e2i was set up by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) with the bold mission to create better jobs and lives for workers.

Starbucks partners, comprising store managers, district managers and baristas, will all be armed with a suite of new adaptive, technical and technological (ATT) skills by the end of 2020. These new skills are aligned with e2i’s Worker 4.0 framework, which identifies skills essential for a modern workforce.

On a visit to a newly-opened store in Paya Lebar Quarter Mall, I got to understand just how much ongoing training at Starbucks is curated according to the specific job role of the partner. Technical skills taught include job-specific knowledge – from a barista learning basic food hygiene and Espresso beverage production, to a shift supervisor mastering the skill of managing different shifts and teams with customers at the core.

“The food and beverage industry is rapidly changing, alongside customers’ evolving needs and wants,” said Patrick Kwok, General Manager, Starbucks Singapore. “To keep up to speed with our digitally savvy customers who demand more seamless retail experiences and greater convenience, we need to ensure that our partners are well-equipped with the relevant skills to represent and provide the best Starbucks experience’’.

Starbucks is refreshing the technical skills taught in its existing training programs – Barista Basics, Shift Supervisor workshop and Store Manager Training – which include the delivery of service excellence for each different role. Starbucks has also invested in new technological competencies to better engage and enable partners as well as support service excellence, such as the Human Resource Information System (HRIS).

“We have always been committed to taking comprehensive steps to build a digital-first and forward-looking environment in Starbucks, with our partners at the core,” added Kwok. “The partnership with e2i is a crucial catalyst in helping us truly transform our workforce to become future-ready, resilient and fully equipped to adapt to the fast-changing demands of the economy.”

Beyond implementing updated talent development and management programmes, Starbucks will also continue to sharpen its focus on leading the third wave coffee scene by exploring new coffee innovations, as well as prioritizing sustainability measures.