BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Big-name corporates still rank high on the lists of first-time job seekers, but young people in Thailand have begun to follow the worldwide trend of working for start-up firms that rely on technologies and the opportunities that come with them. The situation signals significant changes in the economy from the smallest to the biggest levels.
Simply put, size doesn't matter as much as before, as far as those seeking their first jobs are concerned. This is very different from the recent past, when young graduates would aim for big companies, as the employers' massive capital guaranteed job security, and when "playing safe" meant not trusting business newcomers.
Recent surveys showed that Siam Cement Public Company Limited, widely known as just SCG, was one of the most popular among newly graduated job seekers. There are other big firms on the top-10 list, but the shift in attitude is also obvious. Young professionals of today don't like crowded or "bulky" workplaces as much as before and a sizeable number would prefer "small but nice" start-up companies.
One reason for the attitude change, as cited by people interviewed, is that "seniority" does not get in the way in emerging, compact companies as much as in big firms. This seems to more or less support the popularity of SCG, as the company is well known for its considerable focus on creativity regardless of employment duration.
Last year, American first-time job seekers were overwhelmingly searching for work at start-ups. Actually, more first-time job seekers were looking for employment at start-up companies than at big-name ones. This was despite criticism that included uncertain salaries and benefits, a corporate culture that may keep changing, unclear organisational charts which led to unclear supervisory structures, relatively scarce resources and constantly immense work pressure.
The criticism seemed to pale along side start-up companies' tendency to reward creativity. Young professionals have always been dismayed by the seniority system that appeared to prevail at bigger companies, where promotions are based more on "experience" than great ideas.
According to one study conducted last year on 500,000 participants aged 19 to 29, 47 per cent were working for companies with fewer than 100 employees, while only 23 per cent were working for firms with more than 1,500 employees. About 30 per cent were working for medium-sized companies that have between 100 and 1,500 employees.
Analysts are seeing a significant change in goal setting among young Americans, who they say may be aiming for a "purposeful" life rather than a prosperous one. Purpose and prosperity are not necessarily the same thing, the analysts point out.
The Thai trend is not as revolutionary but instances of young Thais gunning for glory and not money are not uncommon, either. Although they are small with limited financial resources, start-ups offer greater opportunities for instant demonstration of potential. Contrary to popular belief, young people want to play a big part in building or reinforcing their organisations, and the seniority system at big firms can easily cast a shadow over them.
Another study in America discovered that millennials are willing to sacrifice pay for increased vacation time and the ability to work outside the office. Conventional work with big, established companies does not give what they want as much as start-up firms. Analysts, though, noted that when competition really gets more intense, work at start-ups can be as demanding as, if not more than, conventional work.
All companies, big or small, must start from scratch. "Start-up" has been the buzz word for the past few years because businesses have been proliferating thanks to advanced technologies that provide abundant opportunities. With young people embracing it, the trend is now looking irreversible.
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