Singaporeans’ Avoidance of Skilled Trades Jobs

Electrician is an example of a skilled trades job

Singaporeans are avoiding skilled trades jobs. A recent survey conducted by Ipsos (commissioned by manufacturing company 3M) revealed that Singaporeans are more skeptical on average than the rest of the world on the career prospects of skilled tradesmen, despite knowing that there is a general shortage of skilled trades workers locally and globally.

What exactly are skilled trades jobs? Skilled trades jobs refer to occupations that require specific skill sets or abilities, such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, cooks, and chefs.

Some statistics

76% of Singaporeans surveyed said that they would not take up a skilled trades job — which is higher than the global average of 68%.

One in four Singaporeans surveyed (26%) who do not have a career in skilled trade cited that they would not pursue such career as it ‘would not make enough money’.

Almost one in five Singaporeans (18%) cited the negative or unpleasant stigma associate with skilled trades jobs.

Interestingly, up to 73% of Singaporeans polled in the survey assumed that one can earn as much in skilled trades jobs as in jobs requiring university degrees.


On the topic of upskilling, a whooping 94% of the 17,200 Singaporeans polled said that it was the employer — who should foot the bill for upskilling courses. The global average was also high, at 89%.

76% of Singaporeans signaled concern about their jobs as they’ve noticed a shift in the job market which increasingly emphasizes on digital skills.


Skilled trades jobs are often jobs we take granted from plumbers to electricians. They keep us safe and ease our lives by ensuring a smooth sanitary system and we can live in our homes and work at our workplaces in a safe manner free from electrocution. How many of us dare to fix power trips by ourselves? We would play it safe and contact a certified electrician.

One thing I’ve noticed too as well is the decline in our local hawker fares, as veteran hawkers gradually retire or pass on, with no successors to carry of their legacies forward. The younger generation is less willing today to take over due to the demanding nature and hours of hawker work. We’re likely to see continued decline in hawker delicacies in the future.

When the job market changes, one thing we should also expect to change is the society which changes along with it. Will Singapore come to the point where Singaporeans willingly switch to skilled trades jobs? Or will we retain our obsession with grades and academic achievements and paper chasing?

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About Author

A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That's why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.