Students graduating in areas hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as aerospace and aviation, are being supported by the Government through the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told Parliament yesterday.
About half of those in aerospace engineering, for instance, have been able to secure internships related to their field of study, and about 60 per cent of aviation management students have been able to intern in related roles, she said.
The Government is also watching the employment outcomes of graduating students closely, and efforts will be made for them to return to such sectors in the future if there is demand for them, she added.
She was responding to Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) who asked what was being done to prepare students in aerospace, aviation and hospitality-related disciplines graduating next year, in view of the slowdown.
The Ministry of Education's Graduate Employment Survey for graduates in 2020 will be published in the first quarter of next year, and this will give some indication of the prospects for the cohort graduating in 2021, Mrs Teo added.
In the interim, more than 21,000 traineeship places from about 3,300 organisations have been made available under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, she said.
Institutes of higher learning here have started comprehensive career guidance and assistance programmes for graduating students to find career opportunities in adjacent sectors. New electives are also being introduced to equip students with emerging cross-sector skills such as data analytics and visualisation, programming and digital marketing - skills which are generally sought after, said Mrs Teo.
As for opportunities for students to eventually work in the field directly related to their area of study, she said: "If there is a demand for such students to return to the sector, (if) some top-up is required... every effort would be made to avail such programmes to them."
Earlier, Mr Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) asked how many applications there were for the Job Redesign Grant when the scheme ended this March, and the number of jobs that were successfully redesigned for elderly workers.
From July 2016 to March 2020, the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant benefited over 2,500 companies and over 24,000 senior workers, said Mrs Teo. While the grant has been discontinued, firms can apply for other grants, she said.
The Government will provide a higher level of support to employers of seniors to help such workers stay in work, such as through the recently announced Jobs Growth Incentive.
In her ministry's experience, Mrs Teo said, firms which have a significant part of their workforce in their 40s or older recognise the need to step up efforts to redesign work for them. "The issue is not so much the willingness, it's much more about the ability to do so."
That is why the Productivity Solutions Grant will be expanded later this year for firms which want to engage job redesign consultancy services, she said.
Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) asked what was being done to help job seekers who are close to retirement age and want to stay in the same job, but face discrimination.
Mrs Teo said barriers will be quite high for job seekers who want to get back to their former role or sector, if such jobs or sectors have seen quite a lot of displacement.
"The fact that they were displaced does suggest that in that particular sector, it is already not doing so well," she noted.
Older workers, like all job seekers, would benefit from keeping an open mind and being willing to consider transitioning to other sectors, she said, adding that she often meets participants of professional conversion or place-and-train programmes in their late 50s and early 60s. But she recognised that some older workers have concerns about ageism.
"Whenever there are cases where they felt that they were not fairly considered, we encourage them to approach the MOM, and we will reach out to the employer to understand how to support them better, so that all job seekers know that they are being considered fairly," she said.