Young people are interested to talk about jobs: Polls

At the launch of Youth Conversations at Raffles City Convention Centre, young people asked questions at workshops and dialogues about matters that are a concern to them, such as job security, racism and climate action. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - Online polls by The Straits Times show that young people are interested to talk about issues surrounding the job situation, a topic which was also keenly discussed at the first Youth Conversations session held on Saturday (April 7).

The polls on Instagram and Twitter - social media platforms popular with the young - asked respondents to rate issues youths in Singapore find interesting.

They were given four options in the Twitter poll: Job (Singaporeans first); Fight fake news; Improve public transport; and Smart nation (cashless).

Of the 2,110 responses, 45 per cent indicated Job (Singaporeans first) was their top topic, followed by Improve public transport which received 30 per cent of the votes.

In the Straits Times Instagram poll, respondents had to choose between four sets of topics with each set comprising two topics pitted against each other.

Over 3,300 votes were for concerns about finding a job compared to buying the first home (1,561).

However, stopping fake news received the most attention with 3,550 votes.

The polls were conducted in March, soon after Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced during the 2018 Budget debate that young people were to be targeted for the Youth Conversations sessions - a series of dialogues in the same vein as 2012's Our Singapore Conversations.

About 2,000 people, aged between 15 and 35, will be engaged at conferences, roadshows, schools and malls, and thousands more through its social media channels, as part of ongoing conversations.

Organiser, the National Youth Council, said the dialogues are to "help take voices of youths into account in the policy-making process". Besides the dialogues, the youth council is also conducting an ongoing online survey to get a sense of the topics youths are passionate about.

Some 150 tertiary students and working adults participated in the first session at the Raffles City Convention Centre, which lasted 75 minutes. A number of participants raised the issue of job security, said participant Yuvan Mohan, 30.

He said while there may be many jobs available, the requirements are constantly changing. "Also new industries are being frayed and there is a challenge to either learn new skills or utilise existing skills to be relevant in such industries," added Mr Yuvan, who works in a bank.

Mr Ang Kian Siong is worried about his job prospects, even though he is still an undergraduate. The 23-year-old first year psychology student at the Singapore Institute of Management said private university graduates draw a lower salary, a concern for him and his classmates.

A recent employment survey by the Committee for Private Education found that 47 per cent of private students find full-time work six months after graduation, compared with 78 per cent for public university graduates.

"I worry about my future because of the number of graduates looking for jobs," he said.

"These are issues that I would like dialogues to tackle because they concern us."

National University of Singapore sociologist Ho Kong Chong said the conversations that the Government are having with young people are important.

"Each generation is affected by different things," he said. "In Singapore, society changes very fast. So it's important to have this ongoing conversation because youths are the ones most likely to experience and face new challenges."

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