SGUnited traineeship and attachment schemes benefit 9,500 job seekers

Mr Jonathan Cai took on a one-year attachment at Prudential as an operational excellence (data testing) trainee in October, via the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Some 7,600 recent graduates have taken part in the SGUnited Traineeships programme, while another 1,900 mid-career workers have participated in attachments under the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme.

The two schemes were launched last year to tackle weakened hiring demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of end-February, about 200 have found full-time employment while still undergoing training under these programmes, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) in a jobs situation report on Monday (April 12). Another 160 have completed the programmes.

The SGUnited Traineeships scheme provides recent graduates or those who will soon graduate with opportunities to gain industry-relevant work experience amid weaker hiring sentiment, while the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme allows mid-career job seekers to gain in-demand skills and widen their professional networks while waiting for permanent jobs.

About 2,500 organisations, including public agencies, have participated in the two schemes by offering traineeships or attachments. Nearly nine in 10 of them are small and medium-sized enterprises.

The top sectors offering these opportunities are infocomm technology and media, financial services and professional services.

In the coming months, another 15,000 traineeship and company attachment opportunities will likely be available, said MOM and WSG, which are expecting continued strong interest from host organisations.

However, as unemployment eases, WSG has started to observe "a moderated pace of applications".

Nearly half of those who received at least one traineeship or attachment offer turned it down, with fresh graduates more likely than mid-career applicants to do so. The key reason cited was another traineeship or full-time employment opportunity.

Both SGUnited Traineeships and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programmes have since been extended and enhanced.

Firms hosting traineeships and attachments that start before March 31 next year can qualify for financial support. From April 1, the training allowances were raised for Institute of Technical Education and diploma graduates, as well as for mid-career job seekers aged 40 and above.

In a survey of firms whose trainees have ended or are ending their traineeship or attachment by June, 85 per cent have either converted or intend to convert suitable trainees to regular employees.

Firms that have no plans to do so cited reasons such as needing more time to assess trainees, finding a trainee unsuitable and not having available headcount, said a WSG survey earlier this year. There were also trainees who wanted to further their studies.

WSG also observed that 70 per cent of the applications were concentrated on 20 per cent of the vacancies, as applicants focused on prominent organisations and sectors. As a result, many did not secure interview opportunities. Skills mismatch was another reason that host organisations did not follow up with some applicants.

MOM and WSG urged applicants to widen their search and consider lesser-known organisations, and encouraged firms to convert suitable trainees early.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who spoke to the media on Monday after her visit to the Prudential office in Straits View, said there continues to be healthy interest from host organisations and job seekers.

"Trainees are given meaningful work exposure while host companies get to have more time to assess the candidates for regular employment opportunities," she added.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo speaking to Prudential Singapore's trainees and employees on April 12, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Through the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme, Prudential operational excellence (data testing) trainee Jonathan Cai was able to take on a one-year attachment in October.

The 38-year-old had spent a decade in Australia, including three years working concurrently at two hospitality start-ups. But when the pandemic struck, he decided to quit his job as business improvement and operations manager and return to Singapore in March last year.

While he initially struggled with the technical jargon used in his current system development work, Mr Cai, who spent half a year in the job hunt after his return, was guided by supportive colleagues.

"I am thankful for this opportunity to try out a new role, and my colleagues have helped to make sure I pick up new skills," he said.

Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Sim Gim Guan said: "The trainees, having acquired industry-relevant experience and skills, will have a much better chance of securing full-time employment. They also constitute a ready source of talent for other employers that would be hiring."

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