Experienced hawkers will mentor those aspiring to start their own business and provide apprenticeships as part of a new programme officially launched yesterday.
The Hawkers' Development Programme, which was jointly developed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and SkillsFuture Singapore, took into account feedback from participants of previous hawker initiatives, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor.
"If your food is good, Singaporeans will travel from across the island for it. For aspiring hawkers, it can be a struggle to get your dish from good to great," she added.
This is why the advice from veteran hawkers can be invaluable, said Dr Khor at the event held at Ci Yuan Community Club in Hougang.
"NEA and the People's Association's Hawker Fare Series have been bringing in veteran hawkers to share their recipes and nifty cooking tips with aspiring hawkers," she said.
The programme will also provide training, where participants are educated on basic food safety and hygiene, culinary skills, as well as business management skills.
They will also learn how to leverage social media and food delivery apps to further their customer outreach, one training aspect that existing hawkers can also tap to upgrade their business, said Dr Khor.
Once the participants have completed the training and apprenticeship stages of the programme, they can then try their hand at running their business under the incubation stage.
This complements the Incubation Stall Programme that was launched in February 2018, which aims to reduce the upfront costs that aspiring hawkers often face.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who attended the launch, said the new programme was launched to address the hawker trade which may be waning in Singapore.
"As much as hawker culture and hawker culinary art are thriving in Singapore, it does not necessarily mean that people want to ply the trade for a living.
Number of aspiring hawkers who have completed an abridged version of the Hawkers' Development Programme
"There are challenges that make people hesitate - long hours, hard work, business risks."
The programme aims to mitigate challenges through its comprehensive mentorship curriculum.
At just 28 years old, Mr Syafiq Lee has signed up to be a mentor.
Four years ago, he and two friends started Ashes Burnnit, a burger joint at Golden Mile Food Centre.
"Figuring out how to operate a business with no experience was one of the biggest challenges, so I would really like to help others ease into the stage of setting up," he said.
Mr Lee, who is now running the joint alone, said his monthly revenue is currently a five-figure sum.
At the event yesterday, the Federation of Merchants Associations of Singapore - which represents stall owners at NEA hawker centres and markets - and the Nanyang Polytechnic-Asian Culinary Institute signed a memorandum of understanding to promote a greater awareness of the programme.