Fresh polytechnic graduates last year did better than their seniors in employment and commanded higher salaries.
According to the latest graduate employment survey released yesterday, 89.5 per cent of graduates found permanent, freelance or part-time jobs last year within six months of graduation. This is 2.2 percentage points higher than the figure for the 2017 batch.
The proportion of graduates who were unemployed and still looking for a job fell from 9.7 per cent in 2017 to 8.2 per cent last year, while the percentage of those working in part-time jobs not by choice dropped from 5.1 per cent to 2.2 per cent.
The survey, conducted by the five polytechnics, also showed that the median monthly salary for graduates who landed full-time jobs rose from $2,235 in 2017 to $2,350 last year.
Similar to 2017, health sciences graduates earned the highest median gross monthly pay of $2,523 last year. Next in line were engineering graduates, who took home $2,400, followed by those who studied information and digital technologies, with a salary of $2,390.
In a statement yesterday, a spokesman for the Graduate Employment Survey committee said the data showed that polytechnic graduates "enjoy good wage growth even as overall employment rates remain high".
"Over the years, we observed that students are becoming more open to voluntary part-time, temporary and freelance employment, besides full-time permanent employment," he said.
"This is a reflection of the ri-sing desire to further their studies, and also evolving employment preferences among our polytechnic graduates."
He noted that based on past trends, the majority of those initially in part-time or temporary employment transitioned to full-time permanent jobs after some time.
The survey polled 9,330 out of 12,443 fresh graduates from November to December. They were asked about their employment status as at Oct 1 last year - about six months after their final exams.
Another 5,657 graduates from 2015 who completed their full-time national service between April 1, 2017, and March 31 last year also took part in the survey.
Nanyang Polytechnic graduate Lan Yung Lee started work last August as a security operations centre analyst at cyber security firm Ensign, after a one-month job search.
The 21-year-old, who graduated last year with a diploma in cyber security and digital forensics, said she decided to delve into the field after reading in the news that cyber security professionals were in demand.
"The thing I find fun about cyber security is that it is like a game of catching. A malicious person can enter through a single hole, and we need to patch up all the holes - it is sort of a mind game," she said. "You need to put yourself in the shoes of an attacker to anticipate attacks."
Her job involves monitoring clients' networks for possible threats and investigating these. The hands-on modules and tasks have prepared her well for work, she said. But the working world also presents fresh challenges.
"Every day, there are new attacks that I may not have learnt in-depth about, or don't necessarily appear in textbooks or course materials. So, it is like learning a new thing every day," she said.