Free trade, tech open up new opportunities, says DPM Teo

Business executive Felicia Kang, 27, speaking to one of the participants at the Todo Todo Skills Marketplace held at Sengkang's Rivervale Plaza yesterday. She is one of the mentors at the event.
Business executive Felicia Kang, 27, speaking to one of the participants at the Todo Todo Skills Marketplace held at Sengkang's Rivervale Plaza yesterday. She is one of the mentors at the event.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

He urges young people to not be afraid but take on the challenges to do exciting things

Ms Felicia Kang was only 17 when she started out in the working world as a waitress in a cafe.

Now 27, she is a business executive in print technologies company Ricoh Singapore.

She is also a mentor at the Todo Todo Skills Marketplace, which held its second edition at Sengkang's Rivervale Plaza yesterday.

The skills marketplace was first launched in Tampines on April 30 this year, by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in partnership with the People's Association, and is a new career support initiative that is targeted at fresh graduates, young professionals, managers and executives.

Ms Kang's attitude in taking on challenges is what Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean hopes young people have as they venture out into the job market.

In remarks made at the skills marketplace, DPM Teo said: "Globalisation, free trade and technology are not things we should be afraid of... they offer us many new opportunities for our companies, existing workers and young people to go out and seize."

This edition also focuses on bringing young people into start-ups, which can offer jobs and opportunities for them.

BEING PREPARED

What we want to do is make sure that our young people understand what the new opportunities are, what the challenges are, and the exciting things that they can do with these new careers.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN

"Young people can join start-ups or start some themselves and contribute to the Singapore economy," DPM Teo added.

When the skills marketplace was first launched, about 30 young mentors volunteered to guide their peers in Tampines. Since then, Todo Todo has reached out to about 2,000 young people.

The second edition will introduce career programmes in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, with about 50 mentors who will guide young people over a four-month period.

The labour movement's director of youth development, Mr Desmond Choo, who was at the event, acknowledged the challenges that young people may face in start-ups, but said it was worth the risk to try it out.

"In a start-up, you can grow with the company and it can be quick and fast. It may be tough and risky, but it helps people to also take on a swashbuckling approach. Start-ups will be the next big engine of growth in Singapore, said Mr Choo, who is an MP for Tampines GRC. He added that it is not only about helping workers, but also helping entrepreneurs so they can provide new jobs for workers.

Addressing the young people in the audience, DPM Teo said many of the things that they are studying and jobs they are undertaking did not exist 10 to 15 years ago.

"What we want to do is make sure that our young people understand what the new opportunities are, what the challenges are, and the exciting things that they can do with these new careers," he added.

Ms Kang agrees. "My advice is, just be open and try something out. You never know if you'll grow to like it," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 12, 2017, with the headline 'Free trade, tech open up new opportunities, says DPM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe