As well-intentioned as the initiative by the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) may be, its effectiveness is limited not only by perceptions of the industry, but also by the aversion to blue-collar occupations and the corresponding unwillingness of young people to get their hands dirty ("It pays to 'get fresh', farm group encourages youth"; last Sunday).
With a diploma or degree in hand, why work so hard in exhausting circumstances which may not provide adequate remuneration?
Rather than the mentorship programmes or internship stints at the farms, which would appeal only to a niche group of individuals, it may be more practical to highlight the market-rate salaries as well as the innovation and high-technology developments offered.
The short-term programmes may galvanise interest or stir some curiosity, but the farm group must sell its careers pragmatically, especially when competing with careers perceived to be more comfortable and secure. References to lifestyles and interest can come later.
The KCA youth wing may be currently focused on promoting farm careers, but in the long term, there is a need to engage more young Singaporeans and make them more aware of the local agricultural sector and its responsibilities.
This article was first published on March 22, 2015.
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