Why aren’t alarm bells ringing if 4 in 10 graduates can’t find full-time jobs?

I refer to the article “8 in 10 SIM grads find jobs amid rising trend of part-time, contract and freelance workers” (Straits Times, Nov 14).

It states that “Like its public counterparts, Singapore’s leading private school is also seeing a rising number of its graduates taking on part-time, freelance and contract work.

The Singapore Institute of Management reported that 82.7 per cent of its graduates last year found jobs within six months of completing their degree studies.

But of the total, 18.8 per cent were freelancing or had taken on jobs on a part-time or contract basis, something the school termed “flexible work””.

4 in 10 can’t find full-time jobs?

So, does it mean that about 36.1 per cent (82.7 – 18.8 – 100) or almost four in 10 were unable to find a full-time permanent job?

If this is the case – I believe this may be one of the worse employment situation in many years.

“SIM probed the “flexible work” trend further and found that half of the 18.8 per cent had taken on freelance, temporary or contract work because they were unable to find a full-time position.

Of those who took up flexible work, about 14.4 per cent surveyed said it was by choice and another 19 per cent said they took on such work to try out the job and industry.”

So many working and studying part-time, but full-time jobs rate so low?

With regard to “SIM’s global education arm has by far the largest number of Singaporean students among the private schools in Singapore. Of its total enrolment of 20,000 students, 16,500 are Singaporeans and the majority of them are studying for full-time for degrees offered by SIM’s overseas university partners, including the University of London and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology” – does “the majority of them are studying for full-time” mean that as much as say 40 per cent of the students may be studying part-time and working at the same time?

If this is the case – don’t you find it rather alarming that despite having relatively, so much more students (compared to the other public universities) who are already working – the full-time permanent jobs’ rate is so low, as well as the salaries may also be so low (see the paragraph below)?

$2,700 median salary?

As to “The median gross monthly salary for SIM graduates remained the same as the previous year – at $2,700. This is less than the $3,360 starting salaries of graduates from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University”.

Last year, the job prospects of those who take the private school route came under the spotlight after a survey by the Committee for Private Education, which regulates the industry, showed that private school graduates find it harder to land jobs and receive lower salaries than their peers from public universities” – it was reported in the media last year (“Private schools hold own surveys“, Straits Times, Jan 4, 2016) that “survey of students who graduated at the end of 2013 and in 2014 found that more than seven in 10 were settled in jobs within six months. About half had salaries of between $2,001 and $3,000, and about 30 per cent made less than $2,000 a month”.

Salary less than $2,000?

Isn’t “less than $2,000 a month” and “$2,700” kind of low?

The “reality” vs the “rhetoric”?

All of the above do not seem to gel with the recent consistent rhetoric that the jobs situation for PMETs is getting much better – such as “The job front is perking up for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), with a bigger share of them forming the local workforce.

The proportion of locals being added to the pool of PMETs has also grown while the real incomes of workers who are in full-time jobs have risen. Real income takes into account inflation.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say painted this optimistic picture in Parliament on Monday (Nov 6) when he gave an update on the outcome for workers of the Government’s efforts to transform the economy to be more innovative, productive and manpower-lean, and help PMET residents – comprising Singaporeans as well as permanent residents – adapt to changes” ( “Parliament: Local PMETs facing brighter job prospects, says Lim Swee Say” (Straits Times, Nov 6).


Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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