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Fresh graduates turn to traineeships as job openings remain scarce in post-COVID economy

Manpower minister Josephine Teo said that 2,800 organisations have already stepped forward to offer to host more than 19,000 traineeships to new graduates, as part of the SGUnited Traineeships Programme

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Several fresh graduates are turning to traineeships given the poor job climate in Singapore’s post-COVID economy.

While the dreams of many graduates who hoped to achieve their career ambitions, pay off their student loans and provide for their families were crushed by the scarcity of jobs, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo painted traineeships as a “stepping stone” for these new labour market entrants.

Revealing that she spoke with several fresh graduates and graduating students from ITEs, polytechnics and universities through a virtual conference on Wednesday (10 June) morning, Mrs Teo said that the graduates she spoke with were not disconsolate about the job scarcity.

Sharing that she was “impressed by their maturity and practical approach,” Mrs Teo said that the students “acknowledged that the job market has become less favourable. Yet they are not despondent.”

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The graduates, instead, showed interest in the Government’s SGUnited Traineeship Programme and asked Mrs Teo questions like whether the host companies would take the trainees seriously, and how they can best position themselves for sought-after jobs. The Manpower Minister recounted:

“Some like Jemi and Ridzwan, both of who trained in hospitality-related disciplines, know that their preferred industries have been more severely impacted by COVID-19 and are therefore open to other options. Others like Yi Ling and Marsya still see opportunities in the areas they trained in – manufacturing technology and early childhood respectively – but hope they can also explore other fields.”

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package during his Fortitude Budget speech, last month. The package aims to create 100,000 jobs, internships and traineeships to support Singaporeans affected by the economic fallout caused by COVID-19.

Mrs Teo said that 2,800 organisations have already stepped forward to offer to host more than 19,000 traineeships to new graduates, as part of the SGUnited Traineeships Programme. She said: “While these traineeships may not be the same as a job, they will help young graduates to build networks, skillsets and resumes. This in turn will stand them in good stead in landing a permanent role when the hiring demand picks up.”

Revealing that her ministry is working to curate a range of roles for trainees across big and small firms in both familiar and niche sectors, Mrs Teo said: “Such opportunities will allow our graduates to experience working in different industries, and gain clarity on what they may want to pursue later in life.”

She added: “I encourage all our graduates – including those thinking of switching career paths – to stay open-minded and resilient. Do tap on the SGUnited Traineeships Programme to achieve your longer-term or new career goals. It will not always be an easy process, but the Government is here to walk this journey with you.”

DPM Heng made similar remarks at Young NTUC’s LIT DISCOvery symposium, that same day. The Prime Minister-designate praised the persevering spirit of young Singaporeans who are affected in the post-COVID economy and said:

“For our youths, this is a challenging time to come of age and be in the job market. The road ahead will be difficult and fraught with uncertainty, but I am glad that our youths have remained resilient in the face of adversity. The pandemic might have set back their plans temporarily, but the virus will not stop them from fulfilling their potential.

“What will set our youths for success is the willingness to take the initiative and make the most of what they have. By turning anxiety into action, they can build a better tomorrow.”

Mr Heng added on Facebook: “Here in Singapore, we are determined that there will be no “lost generation” arising from COVID-19. The Labour Movement, our companies and the Government will walk this journey with our youths. I am confident our youths can rise to the occasion, and emerge stronger as a generation.”

Earlier, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that Singapore residents needs to be realistic and consider other opportunities like temporary jobs and internships in cases where they cannot get a job. The head of the National Jobs Council added that Singapore will see a loss of jobs and even fewer new job openings in the next year, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Tharman urges workers to be realistic and consider opportunities like internships if they cannot get a job

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