Second edition of Skills Marketplace focuses on start-ups for job-hunters

The second edition of the Todo Todo Skills Marketplace at Sengkang's Rivervale Plaza on Nov 11, 2017.ST VIDEO: SUE-ANN TAN

SINGAPORE - Young people can also look to start-ups for jobs and opportunities, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the second edition of the Todo Todo Skills Marketplace at Sengkang's Rivervale Plaza on Saturday (Nov 11).

The skills marketplace was first launched in Tampines on April 30 2017, by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in partnership with the People's Association (PA). It is a new career support initiative targeted at fresh graduates, young professionals, managers and executives.

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

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

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

The second edition takes career programmes to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC with a focus on start-ups.

About 50 mentors will guide young people over a four-month period, and local start-ups will also offer their experience and expertise.

They include SGAG, a social media website founded in Singapore in 2012 by Mr Karl Mak and Mr Adrian Ang.

"These local start-ups provide an exciting space for youths who are especially drawn to the flexible and dynamic work environment. Start-ups operations are usually manpower-lean to keep costs low and because of that, employees can get deep into the action and juggle many roles.

"Although the learning curve is steep, it is a good springboard for youths looking to have a jumpstart in their career as they would have gained valuable experience," said NTUC in a statement to the media.

The labour movement's Director of youth development 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.

"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 a Tampines GRC Member of Parliament. 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 exciting things that they can do with these new careers," he added.

One of the mentors, business executive Felicia Kang, 27, said that young people may be dismayed when they do not get a response from potential employers.

"My advice is to keep sending applications," she said. "Sometimes it is not that there are no jobs, but that people reject jobs. I say, just be open and try something out. You never know if you'll grow to like it."

Ms Kang started working at the age of 17 as a cafe waitress.

"I used to be introverted, but I learnt to talk to people and grow. I started in lower roles and I slogged it out. It's okay to start small and even take on extra roles, because that's how we learn. People say that my humble story has helped them, so I want to be a mentor to give advice to others who might need it."