Youths Want To Work for Government

This is an interesting piece of news from The Brunei Times published on 13th August 2013:

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Brunei youths prefer to work for gov't over entrepreneurship, research shows

Debbie Too
The Brunei Times
Publication Date : 13-08-2013

A recent study conducted by three lecturers from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam showed that youth that were interviewed still preferred to work for the government than be entrepreneurial.

A total of 1,051 students from eight secondary schools between the ages of 18 and 23 years old took part in the survey and found that 67.2 per cent of respondents preferred to work as government employees, while only 8.8 per cent of respondents wanted to work in the private sector. A total of 208 students, or 19.8 per cent, of respondents chose to become business owners.

It was found that the option to work for the government was mainly because of the stable employment, fixed income and job security. Those who opted to become business owners said that they preferred to work for themselves, and that they wanted to "build up something for their families, earn a living doing something they enjoy, and for their own personal achievement".

Professor Patrick Kim Cheng Low, from the Faculty of Business, Economics & Policy, Dr Habrizah Hussin, senior lecturer and Sik-Liong Ang, research assistant also from the same faculty, published their findings in March this year.

The professors stated in their March study that one of the biggest challenges for Brunei is to promote a passion for enterprise amongst the younger generation, as well as providing the "best environment" for business with more positive attitudes towards enterprise and doing business.

According to the abstract of the report, the three professors stated that the research is specifically done to investigate the attitudes and opinions of young Bruneians towards entrepreneurship and the factors that influence the development of entrepreneurial qualities to complement existing or future government initiatives in this area.

The authors also stated in their report that there is currently a rising awareness in the country of depleting natural resources and the subsequent need to diversify the economy over its over-reliance on oil and gas. Some of the future plans noted in the study included the upgrading of the labour force, reducing unemployment, strengthening the banking and tourist sectors and further widening of the economic base beyond oil and gas.

It was discovered that Brunei currently has a labour force of about 188,800 and 62.8 per cent of them are working in the oil and gas sector, while 33 per cent are working for the Brunei Government. "Bruneian businesses are mostly focused on wholesaling and retailing of imported goods. Here, it is natural that companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of the existing demand," stated the report.

It added that as the market space gets crowded, such as Brunei, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. "Cutthroat competition turns the red ocean a market space difficult to compete and drives the incompetent companies out of business," it added.

The authors also conducted interviews with 10 entrepreneurs and found that five traits are significant in these entrepreneurs, namely; discipline, perseverance, innovation, ambition and leadership. The research model for the study focused on three influencing factors, the individual's personal attributes, the education and environment the individual was brought up with and the successful exploitation of opportunities that were available for him or her in the market.

In this study, the professors found that parents set the examples for their children to emulate. In the survey, 85 per cent of respondents' fathers work as employees, and only 6.6 per cent works as business owners. "Even with respondents' mothers who were working, 39.8 per cent work as employees and only three per cent worked as business owners, the rest remain housewives," it stated.

The professors attributed that the experience parents have in the business environment highly influences the individual's interest to venture into business, because they were not familiar with it.

Some of the strategies that the lecturers noted that could encourage entrepreneurship in Brunei includes having an open mind, making people "a little bit hungry", making people be more independent and promoting family businesses.

They said that it is vital that individuals maintain an open mind as it could enable entrepreneurs to see different perspectives or hidden opportunities when entering or venturing into a new business. "New ideas and initiatives should be welcomed by all those wishing for an increase in opportunities to question, to offer alternate solutions, propose an alternate formulation of problems to begin with and to contribute without having to be co-opted," they said.

The professors also stated that "if people are too secured and comfortable, they would not want to get out of that comfort zone", and it could lead them to opt for "safe and steady employment" rather than venture into business and entrepreneurship with uncertain incomes or profits.

They noted that the Civil Service in Brunei is currently the largest employer in the country employing 12 per cent of the Brunei population. "Although things may be changing, for the past years, Brunei has based its educational system on the expectation that its graduates will work for the government, this does not prepare one for entrepreneurship," they stated.

During an interview with one of the respondents, the individual said that "the government can make its citizens be more entrepreneurial by discouraging its citizens from joining or being too much dependant on the government for employment, hence reducing the government's workforce". However, the study said that this can happen when government services are online, so that less human labour is utilised.

The professors said that one other obstacle to "the entrepreneurial approach" is the lack of self-dependence. They stated that family businesses can be another way to promote entrepreneurial thinking among people, as family businesses tend to build up their businesses, contacts, contract and support through family participation in the business.

"Enterprise, together with new products and innovation will be increasingly essential to a country's economy. If people change the way they think,...the entrepreneurial mind growth will take shape and even grow," concluded the study.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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