Singaporean Youths Should Be Thankful For No Minimum Wage
The true home of the free and the brave is Singapore. Or more accurately, those courageous Singaporean workplaces willing to take on unpaid interns. All their labour can be free, but you have to be brave.
If you don’t believe me, go to the first year students in Singapore and you will find plenty willing to offer their services for free. The students will instead value their labour against the opportunity to gain employment post-graduation or the self-development the role provides.
After you hire one of these supposedly unfortunate unpaid students, you will notice they do small things incorrectly like capitalising the ‘R’ in ‘Kind regards’. You will then, in turn, teach them that such a thing is not professional, and they gain some sense of professionalism, ensuring never to make the same mistake again.
However the real bravery kicks in when you still keep the unpaid intern around, after learning the intern you have taken on used to have a paid position at a competitor, but lost it after sending a confidential email to the entire company’s mailing list. This will, of course, make you reconsider your bravery and the cost of freedom.
In Australia however, no student or company has the freedom to take on an unpaid intern. It is illegal. Employers instead have to at least pay $18.93 an hour, and thus face a financial risk with every hire. This of course prices students who lack basic administrative skills like sending an email, out of the market.
It is thus no surprise that the Australian interns are few in number, and why the youth unemployment rate in Australia is at 15.5%, three times higher than that of Singapore’s at 4.6%.
Thanks to the absence of a price floor, Singaporean students – no matter whether they’re at the secondary, tertiary or university level – can easily find employment where they pick up important fundamental skills to succeed.
Companies in Australia also continue to ignore the youth for overqualified professionals, as they cannot legally hire them at the price point that would reward their labour. After all, workers compete with other workers, not employers to find employment, whilst employers compete against one another in search of the finest workers at their price point.
Tragically, Australia’s youth unemployment is most likely to get worse as the Australian Labor Party are likely to win the next federal election and have promised to increase the minimum wage, forcing more businesses to let go of lower skilled workers.
Once again, Singapore is truly the home of the free and the brave. After all, no one should control the minimum payment you receive, just you and your employer.