Commentary: Driving a Grab full-time right after graduation. Should you do it

Is taking a job that’s irrelevant to your years of acquired qualifications worth it, even if it pays handsomely? Human resources expert Adrian Tan tackles the issue of why some turn to driving Grab full-time straight out of school.

A Grab taxi drives on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam on Oct 29, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Kham)

SINGAPORE: There is a reason why cab drivers are often referred to as taxi uncles.

Most are of an older generation and a huge proportion remain men. There is no data to back this but, anecdotally, in my last 10 taxi rides, all of them fit this category.

You don’t hear of any taxi youngsters. That’s because the Land Transport Authority stipulates a minimum age of 30 before you can get a Taxi Driver’s Vocational License.

But when it comes to who’s driving your Grab, it’s still more likely to be someone younger than your average taxi driver.


Prior to the introduction of the Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational License (PDVL), the entry barrier to becoming a driver with ride-hailing companies was pretty low. You just needed a driver license with at least two years of experience.

Don’t have a car? No issue. Just rent one and your rental can be deducted daily from your Grab Driver app’s wallet, which will be topped up as you earn more income driving.

In 2017, Grab claimed that between 20 to 30 per cent of its drivers in Singapore are younger than 30. There were 56,300 private-hire car drivers as of June last year, but this number may have halved after the PDVL came into effect, and with the Grab-Uber merger resulting in fewer incentives for drivers.

Outside of the ride-hailing industry, youths dominate other sectors in the growing gig economy made possible by the likes of HonestBee, Deliveroo and Zomwork, just to name a few.


(Photo: Facebook/Deliveroo Riders Singapore)


With all the skilled expertise that young graduates are acquiring these days, it makes one wonder why some gravitate towards gigs that don’t utilise skills relevant to years of tertiary education.


After National Service I worked as a member of an airline cabin crew. Besides the travelling perks, the income was attractive, and with only an O-level certification at that point in time, I was earning more than my peers.

So I understand why some youths rather drive Grab after graduation than grind their teeth at an entry-level job. Going by Grab’s income calculator, driving from 9am to 6pm on Monday to Friday would yield about S$1,015 per week. That’s S$4,060 per month.

The median salary in 2017 for a fresh polytechnic graduate stands at S$2,235 a month. Financially, it is a no-brainer to pick the job that pays more.


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