Millennials in Singapore want more than financial success

Millennials in Singapore want more than financial success
PHOTO: The New Paper

There may be successful young entrepreneurs in Singapore, but millennials are generally not particularly interested in entrepreneurship and business success.

This is according to findings of an OCBC survey that explored the psychology and behaviour of 866 young adults aged 16 to 29 in Singapore.

The online survey results, which were released last week at the Frank by OCBC store in National University of Singapore (NUS), saw only 42 per cent of respondents find starting a business in the next five years an important goal. Also, just 50 per cent desired to be in a position of power, and only 32 per cent desired to be well-known.

Furthermore, only 49 per cent valued physical possessions as a top priority.

Mr Chris Lim, 20, a business development intern, said: "It's quite a big risk to form your own company, but much less risky to just slowly climb the corporate ladder."

However, NUS sociologist Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, believes millennials are still more ambitious than previous generations.

He said: "Their parents' generation were more likely to want to seek stable employment. They sought the secure and comfortable existence of what they believed can be found in middle class careers."

The survey also found that many of the respondents strongly valued development of their personal selves.

The survey found that 86 per cent valued understanding their inner selves, 76 per cent valued trying new and different things, and 82 per cent sought to build new skills through education.


Despite a common stereotype that many from the "strawberry generation" are more inclined to be entitled and selfish, the survey revealed that 73 per cent were concerned about their parents finances for retirement, while 77 per cent believed that helping others was important.

Mr Febrin Lee, 26, an undergraduate student, told The New Paper that he values his family and friends over everything else.

"I'm at an age where many reach a quarter-life crisis with work and finances.

"But these people will be the ones you can count on."

In addition, roughly 80 per cent listed human rights, poverty, environmental awareness, helping the elderly and mental health awareness as the social causes most important to them.

However, 83 per cent also listed securing a job with a regular income as a priority.

Mr Benjamin Fong, 20, a full-time national serviceman, is not surprised by these findings.

"I think after achieving financial security, many millennials would want a job that allows them to give back to society," he said.

Prof Tan believes that in the absence of comparative cross-national data, it is hard to say where Singaporean millennials stand relative to people elsewhere.

Nevertheless, he believes the survey results reflect well on millennials.

He said: "It shows that millennials also seek to fulfil higher order needs, and are not just pursuing material success."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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