Private school graduates continue to fall behind their public university counterparts, even as more of them are working part-time, a survey has found.
Less than half of them - 47.4 per cent - found full-time permanent work six months after finishing their studies, compared with 78.4 per cent for those from three publicly funded universities - the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU).
They also fared worse than post-national service polytechnic graduates, who recorded a 64 per cent full-time employment rate.
The survey, released yesterday by the Committee for Private Education, found that private school fresh graduates had median gross starting salaries of $2,650 a month, below the $3,400 for graduates of NUS, NTU and SMU. Post-NS polytechnic graduates took home $2,480 a month.
Some 37 per cent of 10,171 private school students who graduated from full-time external degree programmes between May 2016 and April last year responded to the survey conducted from November last year to February. Of the respondents, 2,800 were fresh graduates.
Overall, 79 per cent of fresh private school graduates were employed - full-time, part-time, or on a temporary or freelance basis within six months of finishing their studies - compared with 88.9 per cent for public university graduates.
These results come after the first survey of private school graduates by the committee came out in November last year. It found that six in 10 of their graduates were hired full-time six months after completing their studies. Their median starting pay was $2,550 a month.
However, Mr Brandon Lee, director-general (private education) at SkillsFuture Singapore, noted that last year's results are not comparable with the latest findings, as the respondents were polled at different time periods. The Committee for Private Education is under SkillsFuture Singapore, a statutory board.
This year's survey had a higher response rate than the 32 per cent in the first edition, said Mr Lee.
The latest survey found the proportion of graduates in part-time and temporary employment to be 27.9 per cent, up from 21.5 per cent in the previous survey. Slightly more - 3.7 per cent - are doing freelance work, up from 2.7 per cent.
Mr Lee urged private schools to provide better internships and support in students' job search, adding that specialised fields like computing see better job prospects. Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting, said it may be better to get work experience first, as private school graduates earn only slightly more than polytechnic graduates. "It does not pay to get degrees that may sometimes not be recognised. It is both money and time wasted."
Private schools like Kaplan Singapore said they will take note of the results, though the survey does not cover part-time students and working adults - who make up a sizeable part of their student populations.
They said they will review their courses to ensure their relevance. Associate Professor Rhys Johnson, chief operating officer and provost of Kaplan Singapore, said it will continue to work with the Government and industry to address demands for certain skills and knowledge.
PSB Academy's chief executive Derrick Chang said it has focused on developing more specialised skills-based programmes. Dr R. Theyvendran, secretary-general of Management Development Institute of Singapore, said it is developing 100 new industry partnerships by 2020 to impart practical experience and skills.