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Facing the future: Youths are worried about career prospects but open to the evolving work landscape

Singapore Perspectives 2024 Pre-Conference Poll highlights youths’ concerns about employment and work prospects.
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By Kay del Rosario 29 Jan 2024
Model ID: 91e588de-3855-4bff-840f-e08c22459ef8 Sitecore Context Id: 91e588de-3855-4bff-840f-e08c22459ef8;

To understand the evolving landscape of youth attitudes towards critical life aspects, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) conducted a comprehensive survey, with findings unveiled during its annual flagship Singapore Perspectives (SP) conference.


This year’s conference was themed Youth and took place on 22 and 29 January 2024.


The Pre-Conference Poll was designed to gauge well-being, work, family, and civic engagement sentiments.


Conducted between November and December 2023, the poll engaged 2,356 Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents aged 21 to 64, ensuring a diverse and representative sample reflective of Singapore’s national profile.


The results offered a window into the minds of the nation’s youth.


Work: A forefront of change


The survey findings painted a nuanced picture of the youth’s perspective on work.


Younger respondents, particularly those aged 21-34, expressed more significant concern about their employment and career prospects compared to their older counterparts.


A significant 50 per cent of this age group cited uncertainty about their future in the workforce.


Furthermore, 57 per cent found it challenging to secure their preferred form of employment in Singapore – in terms of salary, position, benefits, and working conditions – a sentiment less prevalent in the older age groups.


This apprehension, however, was counterbalanced by a notable openness and readiness for the future of work.


More than half of the younger respondents were willing to relocate overseas for job opportunities and anticipated the necessity of multiple career switches throughout their lifetimes.


Additionally, a promising 53 per cent felt prepared to embrace technological innovations in the workplace, such as generative artificial intelligence, signalling a generation poised to navigate the complexities of an evolving work landscape.



Natasha Choy, NTUC Acting Director for Youth Development, at SP2024

(Photo Credits: Jacky Ho, for the Institute of Policy Studies, NUS)


Reflecting on youth aspirations


NTUC Acting Director for Youth Development Natasha Choy lent her voice to the conference as one of the speakers in a panel discussion on Youth and Work.


She articulated the concerns and aspirations of the younger workforce.


“The sentiments shared by the youths ... are similar to what we discovered during our NTUC Youth Taskforce engagement in the past year,” Ms Choy remarked, highlighting the alignment between the survey findings and NTUC’s observations.


She addressed the challenges faced by the youth, especially in the wake of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Many of them feel ill-prepared when entering the workforce,” she noted, acknowledging the pervasive sense of anxiety among the youth, particularly in areas like work-life balance, adaptability to work environments, and the freedom to carve out unique career paths.


Empowering youth


In her comments, Ms Choy talked about NTUC’s proactive approach to understanding and addressing the evolving needs of the youth.


She touched on creating programmes like the Career Starter Lab, which offers a blend of practical experience and mentorship.


“It allows youths to work in different jobs ... there is structured training as well as mentorship,” Ms Choy said.


She underlined the importance of such initiatives in equipping the youth with a clearer understanding of the industry landscapes.


Ms Choy also called for a collective effort from all stakeholders to foster an environment conducive to growth and exploration for the youth.


“We must adapt ourselves to meet the evolving needs and aspirations of our youths and work alongside them in shaping the future,” she urged.


A union’s role in navigating modern challenges


Highlighting NTUC’s commitment to the workforce’s diverse facets, including freelancers and gig workers, Ms Choy stressed the importance of comprehensive support systems.


“So perhaps today, the career guidance offered to youths is very focused on your nine-to-five roles ... but then if you’ve just decided to, for example, pursue freelancing ... you have to better understand parts about how the contracts are structured,” said Ms Choy.


She stated further that there is a need for informed guidance and robust support mechanisms.


A call to action


In her concluding remarks, Ms Choy reiterated the importance of understanding, guiding, and advocating for the youth.


She emphasised the role of NTUC and other stakeholders in demystifying employment rights and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.


Furthermore, she called on the youth to embrace new experiences, step out of their comfort zones, and actively shape their professional journeys.


Take your time to discover your passions … it doesn’t matter if you end up realising that this is not something you like. Because then you can cross that out and discover what else is there,” she said.