Succession plan for veteran hawkers
NEA rolls out new scheme which will pair aspiring successors to retiring veteran hawkers.
The National Environmental Agency (NEA) has rolled out a new scheme where veteran hawker stallholders who would like to retire but are unable to find suitable successors will receive facilitation and support to pass their hawker trade on to aspiring successors. Under the Hawkers Succession Scheme (HSS), NEA will pair the aspiring successors to the retiring veteran hawkers, who can then transmit their culinary skills, recipes and practices, as well as offer mentorship on the management of their hawker business, to the next generation of hawkers.
As the veteran hawkers would have already decided to retire, NEA will facilitate the continuation of their hawker trade by relaxing the rules to allow eligible non-subsidised veteran stallholders to assign their stalls to aspiring successors who are not family members or relatives (this is currently allowed only for subsidised stallholders). The scheme will be piloted in the first quarter of 2021 with more details of the scheme to be made available at the end of the year.
The new NEA scheme complements its existing programmes to encourage new entrants into the hawker trade, which have been progressively rolled out since 2013. These include the Incubation Stall Programme and Hawkers’ Development Programme which offer a variety of assistance and support schemes, such as subsidised training fees, paid apprenticeship and allocation of subsidised incubation stalls to new aspiring hawkers. However, these programmes do not pair aspiring hawkers with veteran hawkers for the purpose of succession in taking over the culinary recipes and hawker stalls, and this gap will be filled by HSS.
Collectively, these efforts have helped to generate positive awareness of and attract new entrants to the hawker trade. The initial results have been promising, according to NEA, with the median age of the new entrants at 46 years old, significantly lower than the national median age of hawkers of 59 years.
At the new hawker centres operated by the Socially-Conscious Enterprises, incubation programmes are typically put in place to facilitate and support new entrants. Twenty-nine new hawkers have joined the trade after participating in these programmes. With the Hawkers’ Development Programme, jointly developed by NEA and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), to date, close to 150 participants have completed the training stage, of which 50 have moved on to the apprenticeship stage. Among them, 35 participants who have completed their apprenticeship are now progressively moving on to the final incubation stage of the programme.