Poly's tie-up with RWS gives students an edge in jobs

Singapore Polytechnic students Shaun Lim and Annie Ooi will both be doing year-long internship stints at Resorts World Sentosa.
Singapore Polytechnic students Shaun Lim and Annie Ooi will both be doing year-long internship stints at Resorts World Sentosa.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

New programme will offer interns chance to work full-time at higher position and pay scale

Mr Shaun Lim will have an edge over his peers after finishing an internship at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), which begins next year.

The second-year tourism and resort management student at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) will have the chance to work full-time - at a higher position and pay scale - at the integrated resort after he graduates.

The 21-year-old is one of 11 students chosen for a new programme offered by SP and RWS that allows them to join the company at a more senior level after graduating.

Mrs Seah-Khoo Ee Boon, RWS' senior vice-president of human resources and communications, said they can earn at least 20 per cent more than their peers not in the programme, or about $200 more.

Checks with the five polytechnics here found that this formal arrangement is the first among them. It is in line with the national SkillsFuture plan to equip students and workers with more specialised skills.

BETTER ASSESSMENT

The longer the internships, the more willing our managers and supervisors will be to invest in interns. There'll be enough time to coach and train them, and we can also better assess their suitability for a permanent role.

MRS SEAH-KHOO EE BOON, RWS' senior vice-president of human resources and communications, on the internships

Currently, employers take on polytechnic graduates at a higher level on a case-by-case basis if they do well during their internships. Some graduates also join firms on management trainee tracks where they are exposed to different roles, but not necessarily at a higher scale.

Under the latest tie-up, SP students will be assigned to two of RWS' three divisions - rooms, food and beverage, and attractions - starting next April. They could work in any of RWS' seven hotels or at places such as the Universal Studios Singapore theme park.

The stint will last a year, up from current hospitality and tourism attachments of three to six months.

After graduating, those in the programme can begin working at RWS at a non-entry level, giving them a one- to two-year head start in their careers, depending on their abilities and performance.

For instance, a graduate from the programme will join RWS as a guest service executive, a step higher than his or her peers who will enter as guest relations officers.

Likewise, in food and beverage, he could become a supervisor at the start rather than a captain, and in the attractions division, he could be a leader instead of a crew member.

Mr Lim said his priority is securing a full-time job after polytechnic. "I'm not very young as I went to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), so it's good that I don't have to start from the bottom," he said.

Mrs Seah-Khoo said that the latest arrangement is part of RWS' efforts to "grow a pipeline of skilled workers for the tourism industry".

It started in 2009 to tie up with institutions such as the polytechnics and the ITE on internships. It takes in more than 350 to 400 polytechnic interns a year.

Up to 70 per cent of them continue with the firm in part-time or full-time positions after their internships.

Said Mrs Seah-Khoo: "The longer the internships, the more willing our managers and supervisors will be to invest in interns.

"There'll be enough time to coach and train them, and we can also better assess their suitability for a permanent role."

Ms Emma Meyer, SP's course chair for the diploma in tourism and resort management, said more than 20 students applied for the new programme. Eleven were chosen after two rounds of interviews.

Students who take up this longer internship will still graduate on time, as they are exempted from five modules - out of 33 in total - such as global business enterprise, gaming operations management and marketing intelligence research. Their content largely overlap with topics in other courses.

Said Ms Meyer: "The whole reason we're doing this is that we want to support the industry, to give them talent. It's a glamorous industry but very challenging, with long hours and dealing with guests. But the feeling of satisfaction and gratitude from guests is instant."

Ms Annie Ooi, 18, who also signed up for the internship, said she had always wanted to work in resorts or hotels as she enjoys communicating with people. "I hope to learn about the basic roles and slowly work my way up in the industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'Poly's tie-up with RWS gives students an edge in jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe