Robert De Niro, PM Lee and The Roti Prata Career Option

It has been nagging at me for a while now, wanting to find the time to sort out my thoughts on the future of employment and the trends for the new world order when my son grows up.

Well, too many late night parties and pure sloth on my part has led to Robert De Niro and PM Lee beating me to it.

Robert De Niro Told NYU Grads : “You’re F*cked”

To be fair, he was addressing a graduating class of arts students – “crowd of aspiring actors, dancers, writers, directors, photographers, and filmmakers“.

PM Lee took the refined approach of tackling the MOTHERS in a nation wide campaign “to persuade more youths to join the workforce under a system modeled on Germany’s apprenticeship system. The “earn and learn” program would place graduates from technical schools into jobs, while giving them the chance to continue part-time education.”

The roti prata career option is indeed not a bad one to keep it simple, back to basics of hard work and rewards besides, we all need to eat besides the skill of making good prata.

How many a skilled cook is rewarded for his efforts in Singapore ? Is that why there are less kway chap stalls these days ? The trouble of waking up at 5 am to prep food as compared to the western food chap who wakes up at 10, in time to throw some frozen chicken into the deep fryer ?

Education, the expensive alternative to work, has been coming under a lot of fire lately. Accusations running high that US college admissions are “affirmative actions for the rich”, as Robert Reich puts it.

But statistics do not lie, wealth does play a part. Rich kids are 8 times more likely to graduate from college than poor kids.


And the rich kids can even pay for “guaranteed” admissions via consultants who used to work in the hedge fund industry.


In the meantime, many folks do not realise the sad truth !

Some interesting facts from Ricardo Hausmann.

  • It is more about the passport. In 1965 French workers with less than 5 years schooling, earned $14,000 (inflation adjusted). In 2010, for countries averaging the amount of schooling, income was $1,000.
  • In 1960, countries with better education (8.3 years) were 5.5 times richer than those on the other end of the spectrum (2.8 years). In 2010, those countries who managed to catch up (from 2.8 to 8.3 years) were only 1.67 times richer than they were in 1960.
  • China made less education progress than Tunisia, Kenya, Mexico and Iran between 1960 to 2010 but the economic growth has been phenomenal.

Confession time for me – I am the opposite of the Tiger Mom, sometimes clean forgetting about the exam dates and bringing my son for movies during exam periods because the malls and cinemas would be less packed.

I have also been encouraging him to consider alternative careers such as becoming a naturalist when we went to the Arctic last year and it would be easier because animals do not need to speak Mandarin as this job I recently applied for had strictly stipulated as a requirement.

Then again, I am slack in supervising boring homework as it reminds me of my own miserable school days.

Most of all, though, it is because we know it is not about the education so much these days.

The wealth gap has grown too un-breachable that researchers have shown that “a 1% rise in the Gini coefficient, a measure of economic inequality, ends up resulting in a 0.2% decline in working hours….income gaps get so large that people lose interest in work altogether, since they know they will never be rich enough.”

What about job satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment ?

Better go ask a full time Chinese stock punter what that means with Chinese stocks breaking new 8 year highs today.