Salaries up for fresh poly grads last year

Higher proportion of them secured jobs within six months of graduation, poll finds

In a photo taken on May 3, 2019, Nanyang Polytechnic graduates at their graduation ceremony.
In a photo taken on May 3, 2019, Nanyang Polytechnic graduates at their graduation ceremony.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Polytechnic graduates last year had better job prospects than their seniors, and commanded slightly higher salaries.

According to the latest graduate employment survey released yesterday, 90.7 per cent of polytechnic graduates who entered the workforce last year found permanent, freelance or part-time jobs within six months of graduation. This is 1.2 percentage points higher than the figure for the 2018 batch.

The proportion of graduates who were unemployed fell from 10.5 per cent in 2018 to 9.3 per cent last year, while the percentage of those working in part-time or temporary jobs fell from 26.4 per cent to 25.5 per cent.

The survey conducted by the five polytechnics - Nanyang, Ngee Ann, Republic, Singapore and Temasek - also showed that the median gross monthly salary for graduates who landed full-time jobs rose from $2,350 in 2018 to $2,400 last year.

Health sciences graduates continued to earn the highest median gross monthly pay, at $2,600 last year. Engineering graduates were second with a salary of $2,470, while graduates in information and digital technologies or humanities and the social sciences took home $2,450.

A spokesman for the graduate employment survey committee noted that these results came amid a global economic slowdown.

"The polytechnics will continue to work closely with industry partners to help ensure that our graduates have the relevant knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the economy, and are able to find good jobs and enjoy fulfilling careers."

By way of comparison, fresh graduates from four publicly funded universities in full-time jobs had reported a median gross monthly salary of $3,500 in 2018.

The survey polled 8,685 out of 11,598 fresh polytechnic graduates, who were asked about their employment status as of Oct 1 last year - about six months after their final exams.


Some 60.3 per cent of these were either working, or not working but actively looking and available for work. Another 38.9 per cent were pursuing or preparing to begin further studies - an increase from 36 per cent in 2018.

Most of the remaining 0.8 per cent said they were taking a break and not looking for jobs.

Another 5,845 graduates from 2016 who completed their full-time national service between April 1, 2018, and March 31 last year also took part in the survey.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat said in a Facebook post yesterday that the results of the survey were encouraging. "Education and economic growth go hand in hand. A strong economy provides good jobs for Singaporeans after they finish their general education; and a good education system in turn powers our economy with a skilled workforce."

Nanyang Polytechnic nursing graduate Fardil Malik, 32, who is now a nurse at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), said his time in the school was very fruitful. "I was taught to be an independent learner and a critical thinker... I also learnt to be more proficient and confident," he said.

He joined SGH in 2008 after graduating from the Institute of Technical Education. He was then awarded an SGH scholarship to pursue a nursing diploma at Nanyang Polytechnic.

• Additional reporting by Cheryl Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Salaries up for fresh poly grads last year'. Subscribe