Singapore is helping businesses create new jobs, placing displaced workers in alternative jobs and training workers to grow in their current jobs by focusing on skills, PM Lee said on May Day. Insight talks to a jobseeker and two workers on their experiences.
After studying for three years at local private university SIM Global Education, Mr Sebastian Tay is graduating with a University of London degree in accounting and finance this month.
The 26-year-old is excited by the prospect of working full time and being financially independent, but he is also "a little worried" about actually landing a job.
"There are seniors (in the university) who have graduated last year but still cannot find (permanent) jobs," he said.
He started looking for jobs in March and has sent out about 40 resumes to companies looking for sales, accounting, human resource and finance staff.
He has gone for three interviews so far, with two human resource companies and a local bank.
One of the HR companies offered him a sales job with a $2,000 basic salary and sales commission, which he has turned down.
"I am hoping to get $2,500 to $2,800 per month," he said. "This is the starting pay of fresh graduates."
Mr Tay is aware that the job market is uncertain: "There is news of retrenchments."
He added: "I hope to give my parents money, but they will understand if I cannot find full-time work."
Last month, a friend introduced him to Todo Todo, a network of volunteer career guides started by the National Trades Union Congress and the People's Association.
The network, whose name is a play on the phrase "to do", is part of a broader move by the labour movement to provide its services to new jobseekers even before they enter the workforce.
Under the programme, Mr Tay got to meet working adults who act as volunteer career guides to young jobseekers in this position.
He said: "One of the career guides got me interested in human resource (as opposed to sales), so I have started applying for human resource jobs."
Ms Bhuvaneshwari Shunmuganathan is one of the 100 volunteer career guides in the programme. The research officer at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research sees her role as preparing new entrants for the job market.
"We talk to them, listen to them and share our personal working experiences with them," said the 32-year-old. "We also reassure them if they are worried about finding jobs in the current market."
Mr Tay said he will do contract or temporary work if he cannot find a full-time job after graduation. "I can drive Uber or Grab," he declared.
"I don't believe I cannot find a full-time job within a year. What is more difficult is to find the right job with good career prospects," he said. "And the right pay."
When asked how low a salary he is prepared to accept if he is still unemployed after one year, he replied, after a pause: "Maybe $2,100 per month, as long as the company offers good long-term prospects."
Toh Yong Chuan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'Fresh grad hopes to earn $2,500 a month'. Print Edition | Subscribe
We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs.