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Startups not just for young entrepreneurs, mid-career workers can thrive too: Josephine Teo

SINGAPORE — While startups here may be filled with young entrepreneurs, it is a misconception that experienced mid-career workers cannot thrive as well, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said, noting that there are many who take a “leap of faith” to strike out on their own.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Aug 20, 2020 encouraged mid-career workers to consider a switch to the startup scene.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Aug 20, 2020 encouraged mid-career workers to consider a switch to the startup scene.

  • Jobseekers need to “invest a little bit more time” to understand job roles before joining startups, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said
  • Of 330 jobseekers who joined startups with support from the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package from April to June, about half were mid-career workers
  • Some mid-career workers said that they are wary about joining startups during uncertain times

 

SINGAPORE — While startups here may be filled with young entrepreneurs, it is a misconception that experienced mid-career workers cannot thrive as well, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said, noting that there are many who take a “leap of faith” to strike out on their own.

The startup scene is “much more diverse” than some would imagine, she said, with roles such as gallery managers and commercial intelligence associates among those on offer.

“(These are) not quite the usual (roles) that people think of, so it does require our jobseekers to invest a little bit more time to understand what these job roles are,” she said, as the Government announced enhanced programmes to help entrepreneurs and startups.

Speaking at an event showcasing startups on Thursday (Aug 20, Mrs Teo said that jobseekers have to get in touch with the companies to assess whether their own experience could enable them to move into a new role.

She said that it is “a misconception that startups may not have the capacity to pay”.

For instance, figures from the latest jobs situation report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that the top five roles in startups along with their median monthly salaries are:

  • Software developers (S$6,000)

  • Chefs (S$5,250)

  • Engineering professionals (S$4,000)

  • Sales, marketing and business development managers (S$4,000)

  • Administrative and related associate professionals (S$2,700).

“The pay is quite competitive, no worse than what you would find in established companies,” Mrs Teo said.

“I think startups know that they have to compete in the job market and they also have to offer decent salaries in order to get the talent that they want.”

Mrs Teo added that another misconception is that the startup scene is “filled with young entrepreneurs”.

“But it doesn't mean that the energy that you find cannot (include) mid-career persons with very rich experiences, and that if you're not quite so young you cannot thrive in the startup scene,” she said.

Between April and June, around 330 jobseekers have joined startups with support from the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, a training programme designed to help Singaporeans gain new skills.

Of these, about half were mid-career individuals who took part in Professional Conversion Programmes, which are targeted at professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Mrs Teo added that while opportunities under the SGUnited Traineeships programme were initially intended for fresh graduates, more than nine in 10 of these stints are now also available to mid-career persons who are looking to get attachments.

MOM said in a statement on Thursday that companies hosting the programme started to take in trainees in June, with about 150 fresh and recent graduates having since entered the startup scene through the programme.

At the event, enhancements to the Startup SG Founder programme were also announced, with a three-month Venture Building programme to groom aspiring entrepreneurs and provide support for their startups, and an increased support grant for entrepreneurs.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who was also present at the event, added that one of the “indicators of success” for the Venture Building programme will be if both younger and older entrepreneurs are willing to step up.

“If you look at some of the statistics of the young people and the middle-aged people, how many of them have prepared and are interested to go into this area… that's very important because it provides us with a pool of potential entrepreneurs,” Mr Chan said.

The grant available under the Startup SG Founder programme will be raised from S$30,000 to S$50,000 under the enhancements announced on Thursday.

WHAT MID-CAREER WORKERS SAY

Mid-career workers interviewed by TODAY were divided as to whether they would join a startup given the volatile economic climate.

Garry, a former employee at an aerospace firm who did not want to reveal his last name, said that joining a startup would be a risk, but one that he is willing to take.

“If the opportunity arises, why not, it’s part of a career change,” the 49-year-old who was retrenched earlier this month said. “Right now, everyone is trying to look for a job, we are looking for whatever we can.

“In this situation, you cannot be so choosy.”

While Garry is among the mid-career workers willing to take a “leap of faith” and land a position in a startup, freelance emcee Laurence Wong, 48, said that he would think twice before joining one during this uncertain time.

“I will not want to try out joining a startup because I’m afraid they can never afford a consistent salary... and if anything goes down, you’re going to go down with them,” he said.

He added that having a seven-year-old son to take care of at home has also put things in perspective, and seeing his emcee gigs drop by 95 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels means that he would rather settle for a more “stable” job, such as one in the civil service.

He said: “In times like this, everybody needs to be sure… When times are good, how many startups have already collapsed?”

Related topics

startup entrepreneur job Josephine Teo MOM

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