Survey to gauge job prospects of private school graduates

The interior of the Student Services Centre, a one-stop centre for students to get information, make complaints or get redress from private schools.
The interior of the Student Services Centre, a one-stop centre for students to get information, make complaints or get redress from private schools. PHOTO: ST FILE

A survey has kicked off this week to provide the first comprehensive picture of how Singaporeans who attain their degrees from private schools fare in the job market.

It will give an idea of the job prospects of graduates from private schools and also help pros- pective students choose between different schools .

The six autonomous universities already have yearly graduate employment surveys to help applicants pick the right university and course - and the latest move will shine the spotlight on private schools, too.

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), a statutory board under the Ministry of Education (MOE), told The Straits Times that 16,000 Singaporeans who attained their degrees last year and in 2015 through 40 private schools here will be invited to take part in the survey.

Private schools are regulated by the Council for Private Education (CPE), which is a division under SSG.

Participants will be asked about their employment status six months after the completion of their final examinations, including the nature of their jobs and starting salaries.

The survey results, including the employment outcomes of individual schools, will be published on the CPE website.

  • 16,000 Number of Singaporeans who attained their degrees last year and in 2015 through 40 private schools here.

SSG conducted a small pilot survey of private school graduates last year, which painted a sobering picture of their prospects.

Of the 4,200 students who graduated with degrees from nine private schools in 2014 surveyed, only 58 per cent, who had no prior working experience, found full-time jobs within six months of completing their studies. The median starting salary of those with full-time jobs was $2,700 a month.

This was much less than the 83 per cent full-time job rate and $3,200 salary for graduates from the top local universities during the same period.

The more established private schools, though, complained that schools should not be lumped together. Some, like the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), quoted their own yearly surveys. SIM's surveys showed that 73 per cent of its graduates had full-time jobs within six months and the average gross monthly pay was $2,766.

SIM, James Cook University, Singapore and Kaplan Singapore said they are looking at conducting their own surveys.

SIM Global Education chief executive Lee Kwok Cheong said that "the employability of our graduates is a priority", and noted that SIM has been conducting its own graduate employment surveys for more than five years.

Kaplan Singapore, on the other hand, said its survey will focus on polling employers who receive their graduates.

From this year, it is compulsory for schools running external degree programmes to take part in the yearly survey conducted by SSG.

The requirement is part of new regulations that went into effect last month, aimed at further protecting prospective students.

On Thursday, SSG said two private education institutions (PEIs) - Fur & Away School of Pet Stylists and Stansfield College - did not meet the minimum financial credit rating requirements and will have their registrations cancelled.

According to the new requirements, private schools that offer external degree programmes or programmes that articulate into degree programmes need to obtain a four-year EduTrust certi- fication.

SSG said 17 such schools did not have the required certification, of which 12 applied for certification by June 1 and will have until next year to attain the four-year EduTrust certification.

Four private schools did not apply for certification. They will wrap up their remaining programmes and not accept any new students.

As of June this year, there were 290 PEIs registered with the CPE.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Survey to gauge job prospects of private school graduates'. Print Edition | Subscribe