Parliamentary Replies

June 05, 2020

Support for Graduating Class of 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Cheng Li Hui, Tampines GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether there are coordinated efforts between the career centres of Institutes of Higher Learnings and agencies such as Enterprise Singapore to connect graduates with enterprises to provide employment opportunities; (b) how can graduates be further supported in their endeavour to secure employment and also further their academic pursuits and retraining to better equip them for the post-COVID economy; and (c) how can internship opportunities play a role for graduates during this challenging period.

Response

1. Fresh graduates are entering the job market at an exceptional time. Many will face challenges in securing a job. The Institutes of Higher Learning or IHLs, together with various government agencies, will provide whatever support we can to all graduates entering the workforce.

2. First, to give graduates peace of mind during their job search, MOE has suspended the repayment and interest for all study loans, for one year.

3. Second, the IHLs – namely the Autonomous Universities, Polytechnics and ITE – each have a significant network of companies and employers. They have been leveraging them to provide internships and Work-Study programmes.

4. Employers in general are facing difficulties due to COVID-19. But many are still prepared to hire, and others who do not have job vacancies may be prepared to offer traineeships. IHLs are committed to trying their best to help our graduating students. They will contribute to the pool of about 100,000 opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package that the National Jobs Council is overseeing and building up.

5. To ensure that graduates have access to these jobs and opportunities, the IHL Career Centres will continue to provide career guidance and assistance, labour market information, and organise career fairs. The Career Centres have stepped up the intensity of their efforts this year, including using online outreach and counselling tools to support graduates remotely.

6. For graduates who decide to delay their entry into the job market, the IHLs will support them to learn new skills and knowledge. IHLs will offer their graduates a few CET (Continuing Education and Training) modules, free of charge. We are in the process of speaking to the IHLs, structuring all these modules into a continuous programme, and with credentials at the end of it. That way, graduates can take up this programme and delay their entry into the labour market, while doing something very meaningful. Graduates can also enrol for further studies, including Advance Diplomas, Specialist Diplomas, and graduate certification programmes.

7. The member also asked about internships. This has become a challenge as many internships have been disrupted due to COVID-19 and our circuit breaker measures to curb community spread. IHLs are working hard to identify alternatives so as to mitigate any impact on learning outcomes and graduation timings. If rescheduling the internship is not possible, IHLs will offer substitutes such as working on industry-related projects and taking additional modules.

8. COVID-19 will be a defining moment in our graduates' lives, especially this batch of graduates. I urge our graduates to rise to the occasion and use this crisis to bring out the best in their generation. The government will support them as closely as possible, as they enter the next phase of their life's journey.