Go beyond numbers when supporting start-ups

It is good to know that steps are being taken by our ministries and statutory boards to cultivate a strong entrepreneurial culture in Singapore ("Spring S'pore funds projects that promise 21,400 jobs"; Jan 26).

However, to ensure that the flourishing start-up culture translates into better lives for all Singaporeans, an effective tripartite partnership between the Government, employers of such companies and their employees must be established.

One must not dismiss the importance of achieving a good fit between prospective employees and newly created jobs.

Ensuring this aspect goes beyond having in place government subsidies like the SkillsFuture Credit scheme.

Effective education is needed that will engage both heart and head. Besides encouraging entrepreneurship and building soft skills like risk-taking, we also should inculcate technical skills like computing and digital advertising in today's students.

If not, we will not be able to offer start-ups the talent pool they need, and risk losing them to other countries.

One may assert that we should not restrict ourselves by looking only at Singaporeans when building up our talent pool.

However, turning to immigrants to boost the value-add of these start-ups may not translate into better standards of living for Singaporeans.

In fact, if a substantial number of immigrants are involved, the career prospects presented to Singaporeans may not improve greatly.

Employers and the Government should cooperate to attract and retain locals in start-ups.

For instance, government subsidies can be given to start-ups to train locals who are lacking in technical mastery.

At the same time, the issuance of employment passes should be made more stringent. It is important for the manpower authorities to examine if the potential employment pass holder is able to meet all the start-up's requirements, and also if the requirements are reasonable and necessary.

When implementing policies, it is important to look beyond the gross domestic product and job-creation figures.

We must also evaluate if these figures translate into better lives for locals.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Go beyond numbers when supporting start-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe