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darialim 07-06-2013 11:04 AM

Would you apply for a scholarship with SME bond?
Scholarships to help boost SME talent pool


SINGAPORE — Students of local polytechnics and institutes of technical education (ITEs) can now get scholarships as an incentive to join a small and medium enterprise (SME) upon graduation, following the launch of the SME Talent Programme (STP) yesterday.

But prospective employees should also look at the non-financial benefits of working for an SME, said Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck at the launch of the initiative, which was first announced in this year’s Budget.

“An SME may start small, but the experience you gain is tremendous,” Mr Teo said. “Due to their smaller size, greater nimbleness and entrepreneurial spirit, SMEs can offer (exposure) across multiple functions.”

Fresh polytechnic and ITE graduates are a relatively untapped talent pool for SMEs which, the Government is seeking to unlock to help the sector through the restructuring of the economy, which may see manpower constraints become more of an issue.

Under the programme, a polytechnic student could get an award of up to S$26,000 from their second year onwards, while final-year ITE students could get up to S$12,000.

The award, which will be up to 70 per cent funded by the Government, will cover school fees, allowances and an S$8,000 signing-on bonus. In return, a successful applicant will be bonded to the sponsoring SME for two years.

At the launch, six trade associations and chambers, including the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Restaurant Association of Singapore, signed a memorandum of understanding to partner the six institutes of higher learning. Following this, the trade associations and chambers will link potential applicants to sponsoring SMEs for interviews and selection.

The Government has set a target of matching 3,000 fresh graduates with SMEs in the next five years. There are over 100 applicants who can be employed as early as this August.

Students at the event welcomed the idea of pursuing a career in the SME sector. “SMEs are where a fresh graduate can get more experience and learn more things,” said Singapore Polytechnic student Wang Wei Liang, 19. “And because SMEs are dependent on their workforce, they will surely recognise and reward your talent if you put in the effort.”

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