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Beware contracting out our young graduates' future

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Old 30-03-2011, 08:51 PM
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Default Beware contracting out our young graduates' future

Beware contracting out our young graduates' future

The high percentage of recent grads in contract positions is worrisome

by Richard Hartung
04:46 AM Mar 29, 2011

Jay, an economics degree-holder, has only found three-month contract jobs in banking since he graduated over a year ago. Li, a polytechnic graduate who studied hospitality, could not find a job in that sector and was on six-month contracts in communications. When I spoke to them and their parents last month, they were worried about whether they would ever find the permanent jobs they really want.

On the surface, the data does not look nearly as gloomy as these families' concerns. The Ministry of Education (MOE) Graduate Employment Survey last year showed that 92 per cent of university graduates in 2009 found a job within six months after graduation, and the vast majority had "permanent employment".

A more recent survey by the five polytechnics showed that "more than 90 per cent of polytechnic graduates were in the workforce as at Oct 1, 2010". And the Ministry of Manpower's Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2010, released in January, showed that the percentage of contract workers dropped from 12.7 per cent in 2009 to 11.5 per cent in 2010.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there's more reason for concern than the top-line headlines may indicate. The report on polytechnic graduates showed that "among the economically active fresh graduates, 68.5 per cent were in full-time permanent employment" so over 30 per cent had only a contract job or none at all.

MOE's report also says that permanent employment "includes those on contracts of one year or more", so some contract jobs are counted as permanent. And the results vary among faculties, with only 75 per cent of arts graduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS), for example, having found a permanent job.

The good news is that the employment situation is getting better. Recruitment agency Hays says the outlook is good and "employers are creating new roles to bolster their teams". Channel NewsAsia reported recently that a record number of 145 employers were taking part in this year's career fair at NUS, looking to fill at least 4,200 positions. Other data as well shows employment growing in a rapidly-expanding economy. The outlook for new graduates seems far brighter than last year.

Yet the relatively high percentage of recent graduates still in contract positions, or without any job at all, creates some dilemmas.

For one, it can be hard for these recent graduates doing contract work to find a permanent job. When they apply for permanent positions now, they will be competing against peers who have already been working full-time as well as fresh graduates. Many companies may prefer to hire someone other than a contract worker when they have other options.

For another, graduates who took contract positions often started with lower compensation packages. Along with lower salaries, they get raises less often and usually do not get benefits like insurance or paid vacation. If they are fortunate enough to find a permanent position now, they could be lucky just to get back to where they should have started a year or two ago.

The important goal now, then, is for graduates in contract roles who want a permanent job to find one. And while it is easy to say that the Government could pay a bonus to companies who hire these workers full-time, a solution other than government handouts seems appropriate.

One option could be for companies and recruitment agencies that need workers to band together, perhaps even jointly with the Ministry of Manpower, to set up job fairs specifically for graduates currently in contract roles.

Another could be for the career offices at universities and polytechnics to develop new solutions to help under-employed recent graduates find better opportunities. While this year's graduates are definitely important, graduates from the recent past deserve a second chance too.

And a third could be skills upgrading. When hospitality and economics or other graduates cannot find jobs in hot fields like hotels or banking, it could be time for the schools to re-look at what they taught and offer skills-based refresher courses to make these graduates more employable.

There are undoubtedly a myriad of other solutions as well. The important goal, though, is to look at where we are and get these graduates in permanent jobs so that they can fully use their skills - and upgrade their self-image as well - as soon as possible.


Richard Hartung is a consultant who has lived in Singapore since 1992.

Source: TODAYonline | Singapore | Beware contracting out our young graduates' future

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Old 30-03-2011, 08:52 PM
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Course, % with full time perm employment
(I've only listed courses with % below 75)

2010
NUS Arts 73.7
NUS Applied Science 62.5
NUS Science 71.4
NTU Art, Design & Media 60.4
NTU English Literature 72.5
NTU Chemistry & Biological Chemistry 74.8
NTU Physics 73.7
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 35 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.

2009
NUS Computing (Communication and Media) 70.8
NUS Environmental Engineering 63.2
NTU Art, Design & Media 61.7
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 35 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.)

2008
None below 75%
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 30 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.)

copied from: Increasing number of NUS/NTU grads can't find full time perm employment? - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

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Old 30-03-2011, 08:54 PM
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Default

Course, % with full time perm employment
(I've only listed courses with % below 75)

2010
NUS Arts 73.7
NUS Applied Science 62.5
NUS Science 71.4
NTU Art, Design & Media 60.4
NTU English Literature 72.5
NTU Chemistry & Biological Chemistry 74.8
NTU Physics 73.7
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 35 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.

2009
NUS Computing (Communication and Media) 70.8
NUS Environmental Engineering 63.2
NTU Art, Design & Media 61.7
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 35 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.)

2008
None below 75%
(Definition: Full-time permanent employment refers to employment of at least 30 hours a week and where the employment is not temporary. It includes those on contracts of one year or more.)

copied from: http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/sh....php?t=3158677

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