Fresh graduate became family's sole provider due to Covid-19

Miss Dian Afiqah Salaihuddin managed to get a part-time job as a cashier at FairPrice Finest in April. PHOTO: DIAN AFIQAH SALAIHUDDIN

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Polytechnic graduate Dian Afiqah Salaihuddin had planned to get a full-time job after graduation so she could save up for university.

The Covid-19 pandemic not only dashed her hopes of a full-time job, she also could not extend her internship.

Then her mother lost her job in March, and her father stopped working at a gym because of the circuit breaker measures.

Miss Dian, who has a Singapore Polytechnic diploma in creative writing for TV and new media, managed to get a part-time job as a cashier at FairPrice Finest in April.

She became her family's sole breadwinner for about six weeks until her mother found a part-time job recently.

"It was worrying because my internship company could not afford to let me stay on, and no one else was hiring," she told The New Paper on Wednesday (May 27).

"I felt guilty because I have five younger siblings who are still schooling. My priority was to earn money and I had no time to keep job-hunting."

Like Miss Dian, other fresh graduates are not optimistic about their job prospects amid the coronavirus crisis.

But the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which aims to create close to 100,000 job and training opportunities as part of the Fortitude Budget announced on Tuesday, has given them renewed hope.

The number of traineeships under the SGUnited Traineeships programme, introduced in the Resilience Budget, will be increased from 8,000 to 21,000 positions this year.

Targeted at recent and fresh graduates, the programme will provide opportunities to boost their employability by the time hiring demand picks up, while receiving an estimated monthly training allowance of $1,100 to $2,500, depending on their qualifications.

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The traineeships will be progressively offered from June.

While the allowance does not match the pay of a full-time job, fresh graduates like Miss Dian see the traineeships as a good option to pick up skills and earn some money.

She said: "The traineeship allows us to learn more things, and if we perform well, the company may convert us to a full-time role. If not, at least we will have the job experience to give us an edge over others."

Ms Tan Ko Hui, a final-year chemistry and biological chemistry student at Nanyang Technological University, has sent out more than 50 job applications since March without getting any confirmed offers.

She said: "I hope to get a job in the next few months, but I won't be surprised if I don't get one until year end.

"At least the traineeship allows you to learn about the job and meet more people in the field. It is better than nothing."

There are at least 16,000 fresh graduates from the class of 2020 of the six autonomous universities.

ManpowerGroup Singapore country manager Linda Teo said these traineeships will open up opportunities for graduates to kick-start their careers in this challenging economy.

She said: "As it is unclear how long this situation is going to last, it is crucial that these graduates leverage these opportunities to enhance their resumes.

"Instead of focusing on the pay, they should see traineeships as good opportunities to get guidance and exposure that will help them move on to better-paying jobs in the future."

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