Singapore — A man whose mother was a hawker has a tough question on the new Work-Study Post-Diploma (Certificate in Hawkerpreneurship): “Who would want to send their children to the polytechnic and ITE for a diploma in ‘hawkerpreneurhip’, only to slog for 12 to 14 hours a day to make less than S$1,500 a month???”
The Work-Study Post-Diploma is a 12-month programme, during which participants will undergo two months of classroom-based training, followed by a four-month apprenticeship and a six-month mentorship with experienced hawkers.
The mentors and apprentices will receive a monthly training allowance of S$500 and S$1,000 respectively.
The hawker’s son, Mr Tan Tee Seng, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday (Jan 17) about hawkers and their difficulties, and mentioned that his “mother had to resort to hawkering to put food on the table and send 4 children to school”.
Mr Tan noted that jobs were scarce in the 1960s and becoming a hawker was one of the only options for many people. Some people, like his mother, were able to make a living selling food.
It was, however, not easy to get a stall. So they had to resort to makeshift stalls and keep an eye out for hawker’s department officers on raids to stop illegal hawking.
When they were finally able to start a business, they had to keep prices very low because the people had very little disposable income.
Mr Tan compares the cost of operating a stall in those days — rental, supplies and utilities — with the cost of operating a stall today. And the income in those days, compared to the income today.
While he concedes that “a S$1,000 rebate in rent goes straight into the bottom line of the hawker and that this itself would be a game-changer”, he asks who would want to take up operating a food stall because of the long hours and, in many cases, the low returns.
There has been much reaction from the online community and others to the hawker programme, with most people criticising its introduction. /TISG
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