All schools now have education and career guidance (ECG) counsellors assigned to them, giving students better support in making choices about their future.
As of the second half of the year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has completed the deployment of 97 such counsellors to secondary schools, junior colleges and post-secondary education institutions.
Trained in career facilitation and counselling skills, these counsellors seek to help students explore their strengths and interests.
Mr Wong Siew Hoong, MOE's director-general of education, gave this update at an ECG seminar last Friday, urging counsellors to support teachers in shaping students' understanding of the changing world of work, and enlightening parents in the process.
A 2009 study by MOE found that close to half of young people here chose their courses or careers without sufficient exploration.
All three Institute of Technical Education colleges and the five polytechnics now have six ECG counsellors each, while the counsellors for MOE schools are each attached to four secondary schools or pre-university schools on a roving arrangement.
The counsellors undergo 120 hours of training in career development facilitation and another six months in counselling skills.
UNDERSTANDING CAREER OPTIONS
Most children know only about common occupations like teacher, doctor, policeman… Having a counsellor who can tell them about other career paths would be good... Parents play a very important part… They should be trying to understand their children, their strengths and interests instead of being kiasu and pushing them to do things they might not want to do.
HOUSEWIFE LILLIAN TNG, whose 18-year-old son is still undecided on his course and career options, although he recently developed a flair for writing.
They also work closely with teachers and industry partners to plan programmes for students, such as career fairs, talks and workshops.
Ms Chew Leng Leng, an ECG counsellor at Singapore Polytechnic, worked in the real estate industry for some 20 years before making a switch. Now she is part of a team that organises sessions on interview skills, preparing resumes and admission criteria of the universities.
Said the 49-year-old: "Some students at this stage are looking for work experience or internships, while some are seeking higher education.
"We have conversations with them, help them gather information about themselves, what kind of jobs are a good fit… We also help them see that their skills are not limited to a certain course and can be expanded to other jobs."
Mr J. Subramaniyam joined MOE in July as an ECG counsellor after being an engineering consultant for the last eight years. The 34-year-old, who was involved in healthcare and airport projects, said he wanted to play a part in influencing young people. He spends his week at four schools - Singapore Sports School, Woodlands Secondary, Marsiling Secondary and Fuchun Secondary.
Another person who made a switch last year to guiding students in their careers is Ms Tay Geok Lian, a former school counsellor for nearly five years.
The 47-year-old, who also has 18 years of work experience in the finance sector, is attached to four schools in the east - Ping Yi Secondary, Bedok Green Secondary, Bedok View Secondary and Bedok South Secondary.
She works with the schools to set up spaces where students can get more information on post-secondary courses and career options.
"It's important to help them think about their future and strive towards it," she said. "My new role allows me to make use of my industry experience and counselling skills."
Parents said having greater support in schools will benefit students, especially those whose families are not able to provide career guidance.
Said Madam Lillian Tng, 42: "Most children know only about common occupations like teacher, doctor, policeman… Having a counsellor who can tell them about other career paths would be good." The housewife said her 18-year-old son, who is in his second year of junior college, is still undecided on his course and career options, although he recently developed a flair for writing.
"Parents play a very important part… They should be trying to understand their children, their strengths and interests instead of being kiasu and pushing them to do things they might not want to do," she added.
Correction note: This story has been edited to clarify that the counsellors for MOE schools are each attached to four secondary schools or pre-university schools on a roving arrangement.