A changing landscape for students and graduates

Feb 26, 2017 08.30AM |

MORE graduates are taking on freelance and part-time jobs, as a result of changing workplace demands and of the mindsets of employees. Of the 89.7 per cent of local graduates who found work within six months of completing their examinations – according to the 2016 Graduate Employment Survey (GES), released last week – 80.2 per cent secured full-time employment. This is 2.9 percentage points lower than the figure in the 2015 GES. On the one hand, given the advent of technology and the emergence of the “gig” economy, these alternative work arrangements allow the companies to respond quickly to changing economic needs, while on the other, freelancers and part-timers may enjoy the flexibility.

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In parliament earlier this month, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said that about eight per cent of Singapore’s working residents are freelancers. And because they fall outside the employment protection and social safety net framework, the need for regulation has also been mooted. This same protection could, moreover, be extended to internships, which are become more popular among young Singaporeans. In the private universities, for instance, students use internships to gain work experience. Internships allow to-be graduates to ascertain their work interest, to interact with industry professionals, and to even secure a full-time role upon their graduation.

From the workplace to the classroom: More Singaporeans are choosing to do degree programmes overseas. And in at least four of these countries – Austria, France, Germany, and Norway – tuition is free or marked down.

Public universities in these four countries have been attracting Singaporeans for some years, who are drawn by affordable higher education as well as the opportunity to stay and study abroad. In Norway, for example, the number of Singaporeans enrolled in full-time programmes increased from just 17 in 2007 to 150 in 2014. But before students pack their bags for enrollment, they must have mastered the foreign language, and hope that regular tuition fees – given a potential climate of protectionism in Europe, and the high taxes paid by the locals to subsidise the cost of education – will not be introduced in the near future.

And finally, back in Singapore, three of the four autonomous universities – the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – and searching around the world for new deans. In the next phase of growth for NUS, NTU, and SUTD, the hope is that the new deans will be able to revamp curricula and to better prepare graduates through work-study programmes and other innovative policies.


Featured image from TMG file.

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