Top concerns of young adult Singaporeans

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More affordable housing, work-life balance and educational opportunities were the regular hot topics at the PPF 6th Council's inaugural dialogue.

The 60 young adults, at the "Aspirations of Young Singaporean Adults" dialogue, also came up with innovative ideas on how to solve them. It was held on Feb 14, 2015 to gather feedback and suggestions for the policy needs of young Singaporean adults aged between 18 and 35 years old.

It was attended by Comrade Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. Mr Wong, who is also an advisor to the PPF, gave insights into how their feedback could help to shape future policies which would impact young Singaporean adults. The participants were divided into four focus groups, with about 15 in each group.

Some participants, worried about down payment for flats, suggested "leasing" schemes for flrst-timers to lower the barriers of entry. Under such a scheme, the first-timers could buy the flat with no downpayment but pay "leasing" charges every month. After a certain number of years of "leasing'' charges, the flat would become theirs.

Others suggested more work-life balance for the work force. Biomedical scientist, Dr Zheng Shunsheng, 31, pointed out: "Work-life balance is one of the main issues that young Singaporeans adults are concerned about. Improved work place flexibility, such as allowing parents with young children to do part of their work from home, or greater application of flexi-hours by employers, may significantly enhance our work force participation rate and reduce reliance on foreign manpower."

Other participants were concerned about the delay in starting tertiary education for Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs). They suggested that NSFs be allowed to earn university credits during their two-year NS stint or provide work place relevant skills training for them. They could study some of the modules part-time and use them as credits for their university degree. This will help them shorten the time required to complete their tertiary education.

Useful takeaways from dialogue

Career opportunities and advancement, adequate funds for retirement and healthcare cost were other topics discussed during the dialogue.

Another concern was the over-reliance on educational qualifications in career opportunities and advancement. To overcome this, it was suggested that there could be multiple progression tracks for non-graduates, with the public sector taking the lead in implementing such a policy.

Many were also worried about insufficient retirement income as large amounts of savings are locked up in property assets. One suggestion was to offer investment options that would take into account the longer investment runway period that young working adults have.

Many of the participants found the session fruitful. Full-time NS man Kelvin Aw, 19, shared: "It was a thought-provoking and fruitful session. I took home valuable thoughts that I would not have gotten anywhere else and I wish to attend more of such sharing sessions."'

Sonny Wee is Vice Chairman of the 6th PAP Policy Forum (PPF) Council.

This article was first published in the May 2015 issue of Petir Magazine.

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