8 in 10 SIM grads find jobs amid rising trend of part-time, contract and freelance workers

The SIM Global Education Career and Internship Fair on Feb 17, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Like its public counterparts, Singapore's leading private school is also seeing a rising number of its graduates taking on part-time, freelance and contract work.

The Singapore Institute of Management reported that 82.7 per cent of its graduates last year found jobs within six months of completing their degree studies.

But of the total, 18.8 per cent were freelancing or had taken on jobs on a part-time or contract basis, something the school termed "flexible work".

The median gross monthly salary for SIM graduates remained the same as the previous year - at $2,700. This is less than the $3,360 starting salaries of graduates from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.

NUS, NTU and SMU, which released their graduate employment survey in February this year, reported that 80.2 per cent of their graduates landed full-time jobs within six months of graduation, but reported the number of part-timers had gone up to 9.5 per cent, from just over 6 per cent the previous year.

Another publicly-funded university-The Singapore Institute of Technology - which released its job survey findings last month, also reported that the number of its graduates working part-time has climbed to 12 per cent, from 7.6 per cent a year ago.

SIM probed the "flexible work" trend further and found that half of the 18.8 per cent had taken on freelance, temporary or contract work because they were unable to find a full-time position.

Of those who took up flexible work, about 14.4 per cent surveyed said it was by choice and another 19 per cent said they took on suchwork to try out the job and industry.

SIM's global education arm has by far the largest number of Singaporean students among the private schools in Singapore. Of its total enrolment of 20,000 students, 16,500 are Singaporeans and the majority of them are studying for full-time for degrees offered by SIM's overseas university partners, including the University of London and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, who heads SIM's private education arm, said the flexible work trend is here to stay, partly because the younger generation of workers prefer to try out jobs before committing to them.

He stressed that his school has many measures to helpits students find good jobs. It organises internships, mentorships, networking sessions as well as job fairs.

Mr Cao Yuan,26, who graduated with a first class honours in computing and information systems earlier this year said the University of London degree provided through SIM enabled him to land a job as a software developer in FDM Group, an MNC providing IT consultancy services.

"I had to sit for an assessment test and go through interviews just like the other applicants, many of whom were from the local universities. In the end I landed the job and with a position and salary on par with the other fresh graduates," he said.

On the other hand, Mr Luke Tan, 27, who completed a business degree at SIM two years ago, only managed to land two contract jobs over the last two years. "But it pays quite well, as much as full-time jobs and you get to manage your own time," he said.

Last year, the job prospects of those who take the private school route came under the spotlight after a survey by the Committee for Private Education, which regulates the industry, showed that private school graduates find it harder to land jobs and receive lower salaries than their peers from public universities.

Mr Lee said that with the rising number seeking flexible work arrangements, institutions need to rethink how they measure employment outcomes.

He said: "Should we be just looking at full-time jobs and starting salaries? Or should we be asking our grads whether they are doing what they really want to do?"

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