The Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP): Helping You Cook For A Living

In March 2019, Singapore’s hawker culture was nominated to Unesco to be inscribed on the United Nations agency’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Of course, the main keepers of the hawker culture in Singapore are the hawkers themselves.

However, many of these hawkers may be elderly and close to giving up their trade. Moreover, succeeding as a hawker typically involves long hours, hard work and business risks in addition to having the passion to cook tasty food. 

Thus, it is vital to inspire and equip the next generation of hawkerpreneurs to join the trade so that future generations of Singaporeans will be able to enjoy diverse options for their Chicken Rice, Carrot Cake, Chendol, or Laksa fix. This next generation will need inspiration and business acumen to do well.

After consulting hawkers and other stakeholders, National Environmental Agency (NEA) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) have developed the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP) to provide aspiring and existing hawkers with the skills needed to run their business.

3 Stages Of The Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP)

Introduced in July 2020, there are 3 main stages of the HDP: Training, Apprenticeship, and Incubation.

Stage 1: Training

Hawkers are coached by certified trainers in culinary management and business management. This stage is available to aspiring hawkers and existing ones.

In the training phase, the Asian Culinary Institute, which is a Continuing Education and Training (CET) institute of Nanyang Polytechnic, will conduct a 5-day training programme – Core Hawker Entrepreneurship Fundamentals – to train aspiring hawkers in the culinary and business aspect of running a hawker stall.

Core modules for the training programme include:

1. Following F&B Safety and Hygiene Policies & Procedure (1 Day)

2. Essential Hawker Culinary Fundamentals (1 Day)

3. Essential Hawker Entrepreneurship Fundamentals (2 Days)

4. SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace (1 Day)

Hawker Fare (Optional Elective Modules) that are coming soon will include:

  • Favourites of Our Little Red Dot (Carrot Cake, Chwee Kway & Chendol)
  • Char Kway Teow
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice
  • Singapore Laksa

Fees for core modules are as follows. For Singaporeans above 25, you can use your SkillsFuture Credits to pay for the fees.

 Non-SingaporeanSingaporean/PR (After SSG Subsidy)Singaporean Aged 40 And Above (After MCES Subsidy)
Full Course Fee$2,180.20$2,180.20$2,180.20
Nett Course Fee$2,180.20$465.29$190.25
GST 7%$152.61$32.71$32.71
Payable Course Fees$2,332.81$500.00$222.96
Optional Electives   
Favourites of Our Little Red Dot (Carrot Cake, Chwee Kway & Chendol)$215.00$69.02$26.02
Char Kway Teow$260.00$83.46$31.46
Hainanese Chicken Rice$260.00$83.46$31.46
Singapore Laksa$260.00$83.46$31.46

Stage 2: Apprenticeship

Hawkers learn about the trade from experienced hawkers by working at their stalls for two months. This stage is available to aspiring hawkers only.

Trainees will undergo eight weeks of apprenticeship at their Hawker Mentor’s stall. Trainees will learn specific culinary skills of the hawker dishes as well as learn skills of running a hawker business. Hawker Mentors will guide trainees to prepare for their Incubation in Stage 3.

You may indicate your preferred hawker mentor and NEA will attempt to match the Hawker Mentor best suited to you. However, NEA will need to consider the availability of mentors and various other factors. There is a possibility that a trainee might not be matched to a mentor who sells the same dish as what the trainee intends to sell in his future hawker business.

Stage 3: Incubation

Hawkers get to put their business plan to the test through the NEA’s Incubation Stall Programme (ISP), or stalls that are released during NEA’s monthly public tender. During the first 3 months of this stage, experienced hawkers will provide advice to aspiring ones. This stage is available to aspiring hawkers only.

Trainees will receive mentorship for a period of 12 weeks at their new hawker stall. This is support for trainees to sustain their new hawker business in the initial phase of business. Their Hawker Mentors will check-in at their stalls to provide advice on areas of improvement and help trainees transit into a steady state of viable business.

You will still receive your training grant for Stages 1 and 2 once you have completed the first two stages even though you have not secured a stall under Stage 3 yet.

It is not compulsory for applicants to the NEA’s Incubation Stall Programme (ISP) to go through the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP). To apply for the NEA’s ISP directly, applicants have to complete the ITE “Introduction to Managing a Hawker Business” course, the classroom training of the Hawkers’ Development Programme or be a graduate of business management course(s) offered in tertiary institutions. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to attend a Food Tasting Session.

Training Grants For Trainees And Hawker Mentors

Eligible participants can apply for training grants if they sign up for all three stages of the Hawker Development Programme (HDP). All Singaporeans and PRs can enjoy a 90% SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) Subsidy. Eligible Singaporeans aged 40 and above receive a Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy (MCES).

In addition to eligible course fee grants, aspiring hawkers will also receive up to $1,000 per training month under Stage 1 to 3. Trainees will receive their grants upon fulfilment of training milestones like minimum 75% attendance and on-the-job training learning outcomes in the training and apprenticeship stages.

Veteran Hawker Mentors will receive up to $500 per training month for their involvement under Stage 2 and Stage 3.

How Does NEA Assess The Applicants?

NEA will screen through all aspiring hawker applicants to assess their suitability to be enrolled into the 3 stages of the programme. There will be an interview, to assess their motive to join the HDP. Existing hawkers, who are eligible to attend only the training stage, will not be screened.

Aspiring hawkers may register your interest at  

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