WEF survey: Few Singaporean youths aim to be entrepreneurs, most want to work in Singapore

Only 17 per cent of Singaporean youths expressed interest in becoming an entrepreneur while in Indonesia more than one in three have that goal, according to the WEF survey. — TODAY file pic
Only 17 per cent of Singaporean youths expressed interest in becoming an entrepreneur while in Indonesia more than one in three have that goal, according to the WEF survey. — TODAY file pic

SINGAPORE, Aug 16 — Youths in Singapore overwhelmingly aim to work here rather than venture abroad, and only a small proportion want to become entrepreneurs, according to a new survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In terms of entrepreneurial ambition, Singapore came last of six regional countries in the survey with only 17 per cent of youths expressing this aspiration.

Nearly two-thirds of youths here, or 66 per cent, have no plans to work abroad, according to the WEF report, Asean Youth: Skills, Technology and the Future of Work published today which surveyed 56,000 people aged 15 to 35.

The countries surveyed were: Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The report’s finding that most young people want to work here lines up with the conclusion in a recent report which singled out Singapore as the top destination among Asian jobseekers who have an opportunity to relocate — ahead of China, Europe and North America.

The WEF survey examined the attitudes to jobs and skills, and the impact of technology on the future of work.

The survey was conducted online. The WEF collaborated with Sea, a Singapore-based consumer Internet company.

The desire to be an entrepreneur varied significantly across the countries.

* Indonesia ranked first with 36 per cent expressing an interest in becoming an entrepreneur — which the report said could be attributed to role models who had succeeded in setting up valuable start-ups

* Thailand ranked a close second at 32 per cent

* Vietnam was third at 26 per cent

* Malaysia was fourth with 23 per cent

* The Philippines was just ahead of Singapore with 19 per cent

Across all six Asean countries, 54 per cent are keen to work abroad in the next three years but Singaporeans recorded the highest percentage preferring to work in their own country.

* 66 per cent of Singaporeans indicated that they would like to work in their own country

* Indonesia was second, with 60 per cent

* Vietnam coming in third at 55 per cent

* Just over half of Malaysians feel this way, ranking them in fourth place, followed by Thailand, with youths in the Philippines most interested in working abroad.

The study also found that Asean youths place higher value on soft skills than hard skills generally regarded as “Stem” subjects, that is, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

* 46 per cent of respondents said creativity and innovation are important

* 46 per cent named language skills as important

* 39 per cent indicated the ability to use technology such as social media and other applications as a key soft skill

* One third said technology design like software programming skills were important

The two least highly valued skills are data analytics, and mathematics and science, which came in at 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively

However, the skills that Asean youths value also vary by country, with Thai youths placing a greater emphasis on emotional intelligence and communication. The study attributes this to the country’s booming tourism and hospitality sector.

Singaporean youths gave more weight to analytical and critical thinking skills while those in the Philippines place more importance on technology design and software programming.

The youths were asked about the primary reason for changing jobs from 14 different options such as better work-life balance and positive impact on society or community

* 19 per cent of respondents changed jobs to gain better opportunities and develop

* 19 per cent gave reasons such as a higher salary

* 10 per cent cited a better work-life balance

* nine per cent have made the switch for more flexible working hours

* two per cent of respondents said that they lost their jobs due to technological disruptions — TODAY