HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Adrian Tan

Can graduates still get good jobs?


In MOM's Labour Market Report, it was reported that only 100 new jobs were created for locals whereas over 31,600 jobs were created for foreigners.

The various reasons were because casual jobs from the retail sector were lost, and workers from 15-24 year old age group exited the labour force, perhaps to work part-time (or study/travel?)

If you are a graduate, should you be worried about job competition with thousands of other fresh local graduates, not to mention foreigners with overseas qualifications from universities more prestigious than NUS and NTU?

Maybe you should.

It was reported that even though many graduates land jobs, some are underemployed.

Desmond Choo, Director of NTUC's Youth Development Unit, has met young working adults whose private degrees did not significantly improve career and job prospects, and has lobbied for the government to incentivise companies to provide more work experience, apprenticeship and internship opportunities, especially SMEs.

If there is much to be said for good jobs in Singapore, even if you are able to get a job, would it be worth the cost of your university fees? Would this job help you realise your full potential as an employee, or would you be doing work that a non-graduate can do?

How do we create opportunities for local graduates to have good jobs?

Firstly, companies should acknowledge that sustainable operations in any country require a commitment to building the local core of workers.

In a blogger briefing with Minister Lim Swee Say, he shared national plans to optimise the workforce towards better jobs and careers.

Companies in low value added jobs with high manpower growth need to be manpower lean, while companies with high value added jobs should be helped to prosper further so they can create more good jobs for us.

Secondly, if more good jobs are created, the next question is, will the current Fair Consideration Framework system provide adequate "fairness" to locals? Or should we explore the idea of an unfair advantage by subjecting foreign talent to additional controls such as a PME dependency ratio, as suggested by Patrick Tay (who heads the NTUC PME Unit)?

Could our local graduates also be at fault of being unemployable?

It is a common struggle of senior executives in understanding the mindset of the fresh graduate.

Common complaints are lack of commitment, patience, and submission to authority, job-hopping, lack of responsibility, self-entitled, and full of themselves.

Tay points out there is also a mismatch of skills, expectations, and jobs, and we may have to brace ourselves for more redundancies, unemployment, slower employment growth, and under-employment.

Martin Tan, the Executive Director of the Institute for Societal Leadership at SMU, worries for those who are going to graduate as young people don’t read labour news and think that jobs will always be available. They don't take their internships seriously and take employment for granted.

In the unemployment game, it is not the responsibility of the company to ensure that all good jobs are given to local graduates, nor can the government force all local graduates to be hired by companies and given good jobs.

Just because your ideal world is one where you land a dream job and get paid big bucks to do it doesn't mean it will happen because you say so. Besides employers, NTUC, and the government, the biggest elephant in the room is... you.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan is CEO of The Resource Group, a boutique HR Consultancy that focuses on helping SMEs. Before this, he was the MD of RecruitPlus which he co-founded in 2004 and led to two HR Vendor of the Year award. He was named the HR Entrepreneur of the Year by SHRI in 2013.

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