SME career fair helps bridge ITE students with local businesses

SINGAPORE - Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) turned up in force on Wednesday for an SME-only career fair held at ITE College Central to recruit talent amid the manpower crunch.

Organised for the third year running by the Assocation of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme), the ASME Forum saw 40 homegrown brands such as Pastamania and the Tung Lok Group set up booths to showcase their businesses to students, up from 31 participants last year.

More than 3,000 Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students and graduates visited the fair, a 75 per cent increase from last year.

The day-long forum seeks to reverse the prevailing trend of young Singaporeans shying away from local companies. For the first time this year, the forum also featured a 45-minute dialogue session between SME owners, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, and 22 students.

Many students wanted to know what sort of career progression an ITE graduate could expect from working with an SME.

Ms Indranee encouraged students to challenge their assumptions that their education would define thier career prospects.

"You're not limited by your starting qualifications, you're only limited by the degree of your determination," Ms Indranee told them.

Ms Irene Boey, chairman of the Asme forum, agreed: "What makes SMEs unique is that given the lean, flexible nature of SMEs, coupled with the tighter labour market, SMEs have long been adapting well by nurturing their own pool of talents beyond mere paper qualifications."