I’m not sure about you, but throughout my twenties, I’ve tonnes of friends who’ve complained about their jobs, and then proceeded to utter this rather ubiquitous phrase:
“Aiya, if I don’t know what to do, so I will drive Grab full-time la”
IMO, no one below 40 should be allowed to think that way. Intending to be a private Car-driver or food delivery person till their 60 is a pretty shit decision for most young people.
But first, let’s start with the main pros of this side-gig.
It’s easy to join. Assuming you get your license at 18, you could be driving for Grab by the time you’re 20. No significant background checks, no expensive qualifications needed.
The barrier to entry is also much, much, much lower than say, being an air stewardess, or being an army regular.
Your ‘starting pay’ is pretty awesome. There are claims as high as $11,000 a month, but these are more likely the exception, not the norm.
Let’s go with the far more conservative $4,000.
That’s pretty impressive, earning $4,000 at 20. Assuming you could keep that up for 5 years, you could potentially save $120,000 by the time you’re 25.
That’s a lot of capital for at 25-year-old.
Now, for the bad.
It doesn’t earn you enough.
Earning 4k is great when you’re 20 just fresh out of NS. It’s okay when you’re 25 with no kids…. but when you’re 30 trying to settle down or start a family or plan your retirement?
No way. At some point that impressive $4,000 you earn at 20 will start to look more and more average. Then it will be below average.
Which means you’ll need to take up a second job or change job at some point.
That brings us to the next reason – limited room for growth.
Having conversational skills and knowing every road in Singapore is great. But really, your future employer is gonna want more than that. Being a private-hire driver won’t teach you how to manage projects, apply a framework to your work processes, or sell better.
Damn long hours and possible health risk
We hear a lot of youth saying that this is ‘being their own boss’, but really, with companies controlling your incentives and earnings, that phrase is nothing much a cute catchphrase.
Compared to the heyday of this gig in 2015, drivers need to drive long hours (at least 10 hours) at the wheel to make a decent living from driving.
If working long hours in the office ALREADY increases your chance of getting a stroke, think about how much more risk a private-hire driver takes on doing 12-hour shifts on the road.
Yawn and blink for a second, and you’re one car-crash away from death.
Zero CPF and health benefits
A regular job gives you some employer CPF contribution (17% of your salary, in addition to that 20% you’re forced to save). Most Singaporeans use this money to buy a house down the line.
As a private-hire driver, you’ll have none of that.
You won’t have company insurance (read the previous point).
You won’t have leave days, so when you DO take a break, it will be at the cost of your earnings.
You won’t have bonuses, either.
Tech is working on replacing drivers RIGHT now.
Self. Driving. Cars. Everyone from the government to car companies are spending millions on research to make your job obsolete. Sure, it won’t happen in one, two or three years – but it’s only a matter of time.
If you’re in your twenties and thinking of earning some extra income, then great. Sign up to be Grab driver. Milk the side gig while it’s still around.
But never ever look to it as the source of your long-term income.
Stay Woke, Salarymen.