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A critical look at young optimism in Singapore’s business landscape

Letter: Exploring the gap between entrepreneurial optimism and harsh realities in Singapore, urging a balanced approach to career choices for the youth.



by Teo Kueh Liang (Mr)

I refer to the Today’s Voices, “No Degree Required: I studied IT and audio engineering, but followed my love for art to be an airbrush artist” (Nov 26), “No Degree Required: Why I love a ‘ninja’ housekeeper despite friends’ jokes about me cleaning toilets” (Nov 12) and “No Degree Required: Why I went from NTU to ITE to fulfil my dream of working in my family’s car workshop” (Nov 9).

Recently, the Today newspaper launched a series of stories which depicted the process and experience sharing of young people’s entrepreneurship without relying on university qualifications. This makes especially young people feel envious, excited, curious and refreshed.

However, in reality, especially in this tiny cosmopolitan city – of Singapore, land scarcity with exorbitant rents, small market and high competition are the cruel factors of obstacles to venturing into the business.

Hence, each entrepreneur will encounter various problems and resistance.

Anyway, let us take a step back. And supposedly we do not have a university degree, then we are obviously restrained or trapped in a situation whereby there is only limited opportunity or choices of jobs for employment.

Unless you are business-minded or have acute business acumen and dare to venture out, weather enormous pressure and not afraid of attempts of failure.

But, on the other hand, you need to have a startup capital and a good personal network to begin with, what type of business you want to do and what you are good at, with planning in mind and determination.

Nevertheless, how many success stories can we find in this category, especially in this highly competitive commercial environment (high rental of offices, industrial space and shophouses, stiff competition from government agencies and big private corporations)?

Thus, in today’s context, pursuing a university degree is a must and a plus after putting in unremitting efforts for at least 15 years of studying. It is generally deemed the minimum academic requirement for accessing most jobs in various fields.

Of course, all graduates have to be psychologically prepared that for the start, they can’t expect a good or high commencing salary because of lack of work experience. This is an exception for those graduates who are the recipients of various scholarships.

Anyway, almost all parents and students deeply believe that education is the only way to get rid of poverty, raising individuals’ wisdom and quality(such as cultivation and resilience), and is a robust force to promote the rapid development of society and the country.

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that’s a sign that they can’t find jobs. period. how many of these “toilet cleaners” run a successful biz , get married and have 3 kids?

lack of jobs can also mean biz can’t afford to hire, or they all just wait for gahmen to approve their FT hires then blame sinkies for rejecting job offers.

It is not just exorbitant rents, high competition from government agencies and foreign corporations, the support by our government for entrepreneurship is also lagging. Not only are there strict policies for grants but grants are often insufficient to engage professional services to support ones business in Singapore. Maybe these services also faced high operational costs? On the other hand, getting a degree here doesn’t mean you are out of the woods either. With stiff competition from Foreign Talents in a small market with a flooding population of local graduates, these the factors have placed a cap on salaries. These days… Read more »