Hawkers Honoured at SG Hawker Seminar, and Enhancements to Upskill Hawkers and Boost Numbers of Entrants Joining the Profession

15 hawkers recognised for their contributions towards strengthening Singapore’s Hawker Culture.

Training capacity and new course pathway to encourage hawker entrants introduced, and more stalls set aside for incubation. Existing hawkers will also be provided with support to embrace digitalisation.  

Organised by The Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS) and Lianhe Wanbao, and supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the much-anticipated SG Hawker Seminar involved more than 100 hawkers and relevant stakeholders coming together, both physically and virtually, to exchange ideas to sustain the hawker trade and safeguard the Hawker Culture in Singapore, as well as celebrate hawkers’ achievements.

Celebrating Excellence in the Hawker Profession

Following its inaugural run in September 2019, the SG Hawker Seminar has returned for its second edition as Singapore’s Hawker Culture receives global recognition. The chosen theme – “Celebrating Hawker Culture, Infusing Tradition with Innovation”, reflects the aspirations of the hawker community in Singapore, and their continuous efforts to remain relevant and offer quality and affordable hawker fare to Singaporeans. This edition of the seminar, held at the Central Plaza of Our Tampines Hub and livestreamed to an online audience, also saw the presentation of the first Singapore Hawkers Awards. 

The Singapore Hawkers Awards is introduced to celebrate the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our hawkers, and to recognise exemplary hawker brands and individuals who have helped to shape the local hawker scene in their pursuit of excellence.  The inaugural run of the awards received more than 110 unique nominations across three award categories – Promising New Hawker, Hawker Heritage and Enterprising Hawker. An independent panel of judges, comprising hawker food advocates and representatives from the public and private sectors with extensive knowledge and expertise in the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry, evaluated the nominations. A total of 15 hawkers received their awards during the Seminar from the Guest of Honour, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment (refer to the Annex for the full list of award recipients).

Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, President of the FMAS said, “With Singapore’s successful inscription of Hawker Culture in Singapore on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, it is timely to introduce the Singapore Hawkers Awards to honour hawkers who are at the top of their league, whether they are experienced hawkers or new entrants. We hope that by sharing the stories of these exemplary hawkers, fellow hawkers in the community will be inspired to reach for greater heights and more budding hawkers will be inspired to join the profession and contribute to our rich food heritage.” 

Enhancement to the Hawkers’ Development Programme and Setting Aside More Stalls for Incubation

As part of the efforts to sustain Hawker Culture, NEA has been working with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) to provide training opportunities and pathways for aspiring hawkers. In January 2020, NEA and SSG launched the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP) to equip aspiring hawkers with the relevant skills and competencies to run their hawker businesses. The programme comprises three stages –training, apprenticeship, and running an incubation stall. Aspiring hawkers under the programme can enjoy a variety of assistance and support, such as subsidised training fees, training allowance, apprenticeship with experienced hawkers and potential allocation of subsidised incubation stalls.

As of 1 January 2021, more than 170 aspiring hawkers have completed the training stage of the programme, of which 56 have moved on to the apprenticeship stage. Among them, 41 participants who have completed their apprenticeship are now progressively moving on to the final stage of the programme, to set up their incubation stalls. Due to the encouraging response towards the HDP, NEA and SSG will look into increasing the training capacity of the programme from 100 to 300 over the next two years.

Additionally, to better ease the entry of younger aspiring hawkers into the hawker trade, NEA and SSG have also worked with Temasek Polytechnic to develop a new track under the HDP, the Work-Study Post-Diploma (Certificate in Hawkerpreneurship). Targeted at recent graduates from the five polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, the new 12-month course is designed to meet the needs of younger aspiring hawkers by offering a longer, more structured curriculum while optimising their learning experiences and skills development to run a hawker business or enter the F&B trade. 

Under the programme, participants will undergo a two-month interactive classroom-based training, which will focus on areas such as large-scale cooking techniques, tools to develop more nutritious recipes, and marketing techniques to conceptualise and execute a business plan, amongst others. Thereafter, participants will go through a four-month apprenticeship with experienced hawkers, follow by a six-month mentorship, where they will continue to benefit from the guidance and support of the experienced hawkers while running their incubation stalls. Participants will also receive a monthly training allowance of $1,000. Aspiring hawkers can visit www.tp.edu.sg/wsphawkerpreneurship to register for the course and the inaugural run is expected to commence from March 2021. 

With the increase in the training capacity of the HDP, NEA will also set aside more stalls for incubation purpose. In the next few years, NEA will gradually expand the number of incubation stalls offered under the Incubation Stall Programme, to up to 80 stalls, a four-fold increase from the current 20 stalls. These stalls will be well distributed across hawker centres islandwide with an established clientele to tap into, so that aspiring hawkers will be better able to sustain their businesses.

Existing Hawkers Get Support to Adopt Digital Technology 

As the Government carries on in its efforts to attract new entrants to join the hawker profession, it will also continue to support existing hawkers to stay relevant with the use of technology. To support hawkers on their digitalisation journey, NEA and SSG have worked with the Nanyang Polytechnic-Asian Culinary Institute to pilot a new module, “Adapt to Change – Digitalisation for Hawkers” under the HDP in December 2020. Through the one-day module, hawkers will learn how to use e-payment, as well as establish their presence on social media platforms and food delivery mobile applications. They will also be provided with information on the various funding schemes that they can tap on to strengthen their competitiveness through digitalisation.   

To date, three classes have been conducted and a total of 70 participants have completed the module, of which 63 are hawkers, with the majority of them taking advantage of downtime during the Repairs and Redecoration (R&R) works at their hawker centres to upskill. Existing hawkers who wish to enrol for the module can visit  https://www.aci.edu.sg/CourseDetails.aspx?pid=2167 for more information.