Why It Matters

Getting students ready for jobs

Last year was favourable for local fresh graduates, who continued to earn better salaries and enjoy high employability.

They earned a new high of $3,300 a month in median salaries, and about nine in 10 of them found jobs within six months of finishing school, similar to previous years.

Economists and human resource experts said the results of the joint graduate employment survey, released on Wednesday, were expected, given the tight labour market last year, which drove up wages.

The exercise last November polled 10,028 fresh graduates from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.

While competition for local workers and shortages in some industries pushed up salaries, the recent economic climate paints a less rosy picture of the coming months. Amid uncertainty and retrenchments in the financial sector, human resource practitioners say that new graduates can expect starting salaries to remain the same or dip.

Those finishing their university studies this year could take a longer time to find suitable jobs.

China's slowdown, falling oil prices and a shift in skill sets needed because of changing technology are some of the challenges that will affect recruitment.

But it is not all doom and gloom.

This year, the engineering sector is expected to expand and demand is growing for those with skills in areas such as financial and medical technologies, as well as the environment and water industry.

The local universities have also stepped up efforts to prepare students for the working world by offering courses and curricula that will be in demand. They are also pushing students to consider their interests and aspirations through internships. In recent years, they have even hired HR professionals to give practical advice about specific industry needs.

With the changes taking place in the world and Singapore, this work to equip students with knowledge and experience for the job market is all the more essential.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline 'Getting students ready for jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe