Fresh polytechnic grads found it harder to get jobs last year amid Covid-19 pandemic

The proportion of polytechnic graduates who were unemployed crept up to 12.6 per cent last year.
The proportion of polytechnic graduates who were unemployed crept up to 12.6 per cent last year.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Fresh polytechnic graduates had a harder time in the job market last year, amid a hiring slowdown brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest graduate employment survey conducted by the five polytechnics in Singapore showed that 87.4 per cent of their graduates found permanent, freelance or part-time jobs within six months of graduation last year.

This is a drop from 90.7 per cent in 2019 and 89.5 per cent in 2018.

The median gross monthly salary among graduates in full-time permanent employment remained at $2,400 last year, the same as in 2019. In 2018, the figure was $2,350.

Over the last three years, the median gross monthly salaries of graduates in the engineering, health sciences, and information and digital technologies fields have been consistently higher than the pay for all graduates.

The proportion of polytechnic graduates who were unemployed crept up to 12.6 per cent last year, compared with 9.3 per cent in 2019 and 10.5 per cent in 2018.

But the polytechnics remain optimistic about the economic outlook for their graduates, saying that they "continue to be in demand by industry despite the Covid-19 pandemic".

In a statement on Tuesday (Jan 12), Mr Clarence Ti, Ngee Ann Polytechnic's principal, said: "This year's polytechnic graduates are entering the job market in an unprecedented time. Covid-19 has had a major impact on our economy.

"We are glad that many of our polytechnic graduates have been resilient and managed to secure a job despite the challenging times. Although the pandemic has been disruptive, there are exciting opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, infocomm technology, cybersecurity and e-commerce."

Speaking on behalf of the polytechnic graduate employment survey committee, Mr Ti said the institutes will continue to provide career guidance and support to graduates to help them find a job in the area of their training or pivot to the new job roles that are being created.

Some 8,946 of 11,909 fresh graduates last year responded to the poll. Also surveyed were 5,461 of 9,619 graduates from 2017, who completed their full-time national service between Apr 1 2019 and Mar 31 2020.

The poll also found that 2.9 per cent of the graduates who responded had either accepted a job offer or were actively starting a business venture.

Of those in the labour force, 52 per cent were in full-time permanent employment, while 31.6 per cent were in part-time or temporary employment.

They include 5.2 per cent of graduates who were in the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, which was set up last year to help fresh graduates boost their employability by the time hiring demand picks up after the coronavirus pandemic.

Just like in previous years, about half the polytechnic graduates in part-time or temporary employment indicated that they were concurrently pursuing or preparing to begin further studies.

In Tuesday's joint statement, the polytechnics said they had stepped up efforts to support their graduates amid the Covid-19 pandemic, including by providing career guidance and support through job matching, personalised coaching and planning, and complimentary continuing education and training courses.

The polytechnics have also tapped their network of industry partners for suitable job placement and apprenticeship opportunities for graduates.