S’pore youth most pessimistic in the region about tech’s impact on jobs, incomes
HANOI — As rapid digitalisation disrupts jobs, Singapore’s youth are among the most pessimistic in the region about the impact of technology on their employment prospects and earning potential, a new survey by the World Economic Forum and regional Internet firm Sea has found.
HANOI — As rapid digitalisation disrupts jobs, Singapore’s youths are among the most pessimistic in the region about the impact of technology on their employment prospects and earning potential, a new survey by the World Economic Forum and regional Internet firm Sea has found.
The findings of the survey, released on Tuesday (Sept 11), showed that only three in 10 Singapore youth (31.2 per cent) believe technology will increase the number of jobs available. This stood in stark contrast to the optimism recorded in the Philippines, where six in 10 youth (60.3 per cent) felt the same.
The survey done in July took the pulse of young people across six countries in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — via Sea’s e-commerce service Shopee and gaming platform Garena.
The findings were based on responses from 42,000 youth aged 35 and below, and about 2,000 of these were from Singapore.
Some 53 per cent of Singapore’s youth — the largest share among those surveyed — felt that technology would reduce the number of jobs available. In comparison, only three in 10 Filipino youth (30.1 per cent) shared similar sentiments.
In Singapore, the young people were similarly downbeat about the impact of technology on their incomes. Only 47.4 per cent of them said that technology will increase their earning power, considerably lower than those surveyed in Vietnam (72.8 per cent), the Philippines (72.7 per cent) and Indonesia (72.2 per cent).
About three in 10 Singapore youth (34.7 per cent) believed that technology will diminish their earning power, compared with about one in 10 in Indonesia (13.4 per cent) and Vietnam (14 per cent).
Taken as a whole, however, young people in the region were mostly positive about the impact of technology on their jobs and income.
Half of those surveyed (51.7 per cent) believed that technology will enlarge the pool of jobs available, while nearly seven in 10 (67.1 per cent) said that technology will raise their incomes.
WHY S’PORE’S YOUTH MAY BE MORE PESSIMISTIC
The Singapore workforce’s high education levels could partly explain the pessimism among its youth, said Sea’s group chief economist Santitarn Sathirathai.
Those who are more educated tend to be more pessimistic, as they are more informed about the potential disruption to jobs brought on by technology.
Mr Sathirathai was speaking to reporters in Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Asean — a high-level diplomatic gathering to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship.
Mr Sathirathai also said that those in a more educated workforce could have spent years building their skills and working in sectors such as retail and banking, where they are used to stability and predictability, and a fixed skill set.
“Whereas the less educated ones may be… self-employed and so they are more nimble, more flexible,” he added.
Those in regular jobs may also fear that technology could bring about further changes, making things more unpredictable. Another possible reason is that those from Singapore tended to be older than others in the region, with the overall survey finding that youth who are older tended to be more pessimistic about the effects of technology, Mr Sathirathai said.
MORE S’PORE YOUTH WANT TO BE THEIR OWN BOSS
The survey also delved into the work aspirations of young people in the region, trying to find out if they would like to be self-employed, work for a foreign multinational firm, or for a charity or social enterprise.
In a sign of blooming entrepreneurial ambition, 14.5 per cent of those polled in Singapore are self-employed, and 20.2 per cent want to work for themselves in future. This contrasts with the falling appetite among Filipinos for starting their own business: About a third (34.3 per cent) are self-employed presently, but only 19.4 per cent want to work for themselves in future.
Singapore's youth also made up the largest share of those who wish to be employed by a foreign multinational corporation. About one-fifth (20.8 per cent) already work for one, but 23.5 per cent want to do so down the road.
Young workers, said the World Economic Forum and Sea, may see multinational firms as providing a better or more stable source of income, more learning opportunities, and as a springboard to work abroad.
As for youth who want to work for a charity or social enterprise, just 5.2 per cent from Singapore expressed interest, lower than those in Indonesia (9.5 per cent) and Malaysia (5.5 per cent).