TL;DR – Dancing with the stars, the #MadeinSingapore way.
Meet 30 year old Mohammad Faliq Rais. If you’re interested to learn Hip-Hop dancing, then you should look for him (I’m not at liberty to give you his number though…).
And if you’re looking to buy an insurance policy to protect yourself against illnesses, death and disability, you could look for him too. Again, I’m not at liberty to give you his number.
But you’ll be surprised that Faliq actually studied and majored in something very different. He actually has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences. (No, he doesn’t use what he studied to calculate his dance moves.)
What’s even more surprising is that although he graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Faliq has never held a full-time job as a salaried employee in a company. Instead, he has been freelancing as a dance instructor and an insurance agent for the past seven years since he graduated. In fact, he has even been a part-time soccer referee a few times.
I spent an afternoon with him to find out about his passion and decision to be a freelancer.
Since his secondary school days, he had been active in a hip-hop dance group as a Co-Curricular Activity in his school, often taking part in competitions and performances. His passion for dancing led to him becoming a freelance dance instructor for schools when he was a freshman in NTU.
One thing led to another and just before graduating from university, he made the big decision of becoming a full-time freelancing dance instructor. And the rest as they all say, is history.
Most typical parents will worry and question the move to freelance, but not Faliq’s. He says that his parents have never questioned nor set any expectations on him. In fact they’ve never asked if he will find a full-time job in a company.
Besides dancing, Faliq also has his hands busy with helping clients with their insurance policies. It’s something that he has as a backup plan.
“If there comes a day that I’m unable to continue as a dance instructor for whatever reason, I have something to fall back on for my income.”
Yeah, talk about diversification.
But the other reason why he decided to be an insurance agent as Faliq shares, is because there may come a time when schools won’t engage the services of freelance instructors to coach students but employ full-time instructors.
Here’s the other thing, Faliq’s fiancé was also be a freelance dance instructor and they both started out together after graduation. You know what they say about having a life partner with the same passion? Sweet huh?
Of course, because of this, his fiancé understands his decision to freelance and not hold on to a full-time position in a company, and has also never ask if he will work in a company.
Faliq is just one of a pool of 200,000 freelancers and self-employed individuals in Singapore. This means that he is not under the employment of any company or organisation, and this number is set to grow.
As freelancers are not employees in a company. They’re unable to engage the services of a union if they face any grievance or employment issues. But like any other worker, freelancers also have their own set of issues at work. This is why the NTUC has extended its outreach to Freelancers and Self-Employed through its Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit which was set up in 2014 to understand their concerns and work together to find solutions.
With the unit, freelancers and self-employed now have access to some of the programmes under a ‘Pay-Per-Use’ model under the NTUC umbrella such as legal advice and seminars as part of the growing network of the Unusual Labour Movement.
Talking about help, you should know about the Labour Market Report for the first half of 2016 by now.
Well, the main thing is, redundancies are rising, employment growth is becoming flat and the number of job vacancies is being outnumbered by the unemployed.
Anyway, the good news (well, sort of…) is that Singapore is not alone. The decline is global with the banking and oil and gas industry being the worst hit.
Fortunately, there is help for Singaporeans (especially for PMETs) to upgrade during this period of economic restructuring. These include the Professional Conversion Programme, Adapt and Grow Initiative and the Union Training Assistance Programme for locals to tap on.