Starting from next year, first-year students at Ngee Ann, Singapore and Temasek polytechnics will be mentored by industry professionals, a privilege currently reserved for final-year students.
Under the Industry Mentors' Network programme, students will be assigned mentors in their fields of study who will meet them twice a year and provide career guidance throughout their course of study.
Yesterday, representatives from 27 companies and the polytechnics signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Ngee Ann Polytechnic to launch the programme.
Corporate partners include Barclays, Ernst & Young, NTUC, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Sembcorp.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which initiated the programme, will start with 850 students from eight diploma courses such as advertising and public relations and information technology.
The school's senior director of academic matters, Mrs Tang-Lim Guek Im, said: "Currently our students have internships and mentors in their third year, but we felt that perhaps that's a bit too late, especially as students are consumed by projects, so it's better to start in year one."
At the launch yesterday, first- year biomedical engineering student Gautham Vijayan Kumaran met his mentor, Mr Calvin Cheng, chief technology officer at eyecare software company Algo Access.
Said the 17-year-old: "Research and development is something I'm keen on, and this is a good opportunity to get industry exposure."
Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said: "It's a win-win situation for students and companies, as employers can play a part in developing the kind of people they want."
Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology's Asia Pacific director David Kelly said he jumped at the chance to mentor students in the marine and offshore technology course.
"I remember being that age and finding it really difficult to get a job, so just having some support and the opportunity to ask questions is good," he said.
"My mentors made time for me, and I'd make time for my mentees as well. If you've had the support of someone in your career, it's important to give something back."