In his May Day message, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng mentioned the Labour Movement’s plans to support young workers and their workplace needs and aspirations. He highlighted that there is a space where the Labour Movement would be able to come in and offer this group of workers better workplace security and placement opportunities.
A new youth taskforce will dive into issues of young job entrants and look at supporting workers in the areas they have expressed concerns. He has hopes that the taskforce will reach out to at least 10,000 younger workers once they have a better understanding of the needs of this group of workers.
The labour chief suggested an example of how to better support young workers through union officers mentoring student interns to show them the various career pathways in a company. The youth would also receive guidance throughout the internship beyond hands-on work experience. The Labour Movement is planning to partner with schools for placement opportunities across various industries.
Current Climate for Young Workers
On enhancing the chances of young workers gaining employment, recruiter Caroline Neo said: “Youths today have more resources at their fingertips than ever. Network more, connect with like-minded professionals on LinkedIn, reach out to industry peers, and seek internships. If you are keen on certain hiring companies, add them on LinkedIn! All these will help boost your career.”
A collaboration between the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) saw some 1,039 youths engaged for their views and thoughts about their workplace and the challenges they face. Respondents were between the ages of 18 and 35 and shared their responses through surveys, focus group discussions and interviews.
The results showed that the top three concerns younger workers faced were career opportunities, finances and mental well-being.
More than half of respondents indicated that their most trying areas at work were to do with career opportunities and prospects. In addition, the study found most of the youth who responded did not know about the challenges they might face in the workplace before they started their first job. All these factors potentially culminate in young working adults facing challenges once they enter the workforce.
Another survey released by the inter-university network surfaced work and study commitments as one of the top stressors amongst undergraduate youths. The survey was conducted across six institutes of higher learning, with over 470 respondents answering 22 questions about their mental well-being.
Speaking at the U Care Mental Health Forum, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: “Key stressors for youth included uncertainty about their future and concern about work-life balance … There was also concern about a disconnect with friends, peers and colleagues as well as concern that they might not be able to adapt to the working world when they come out of school.”
The research indicates that youths are not as prepared for work challenges, and many have issues navigating the workplace in their early years.
“Youths today have more resources at their fingertips than ever. Network more, connect with like-minded professionals on LinkedIn, reach out to industry peers, and seek internships. If you are keen on certain hiring companies, add them on LinkedIn! All these will help boost your career.” – Caroline Neo, Recruiter
Coping Mechanisms of Youth
Both surveys also shed some light on how youths try to cope with their challenges. For example, the SUTD x NTUC survey found that when faced with challenges, younger workers prefer to resolve issues on their own or with the help of friends and colleagues.
The Inter-university Network survey showed that 49 per cent of the youth respondents preferred to deal with their concerns on their own.
The results show that youth might not engage in as much help-seeking behaviour as they should, and this, coupled with challenges in their workplace, might exacerbate the stress they feel.
With all the uncertainties in the job market, our young workers need all the help they can.
Last week, Young NTUC, the youth wing of NTUC and the largest youth movement in Singapore, organised a one-day hybrid symposium filled with engaging programmes to help youths ramp up their career and personal aspirations.
From keynote sharings by C-suite leaders to career profiling and mental wellness, participants networked and learnt how to futureproof themselves! Through engagement exercises, it will be exciting to see how much the Labour Movement can move the needle to better support this group of young workers. They need all the help they can.