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Employment rate among fresh poly grads dips, but wages rise: Survey

SINGAPORE — While the median monthly salary has increased for fresh polytechnic graduates, the employment rate for this group has dipped to its lowest in recent years, based on the latest Graduate Employment Survey by the five polytechnics here.

Polytechnic students in Singapore. TODAY file photo

Polytechnic students in Singapore. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — While the median monthly salary has increased for fresh polytechnic graduates, the employment rate for this group has dipped to an all-time low since data was first collected in 2005, based on the latest Graduate Employment Survey by the five polytechnics here.

The survey found that 86.4 per cent of those who were working or actively seeking work had landed jobs within six months of graduating, a drop from 90.6 per cent in 2016. From 2011 to 2015, the figure hovered between 88.9 per cent and 92.1 per cent.

The rate was 89.8 per cent for graduates who entered the workforce after National Service (NS), which also dropped from 95.4 per cent in 2016.

A spokesperson from the survey committee told TODAY that the overall employment rate “is the lowest since 2005”. “The gradual decline over the years reflects the greater shift in polytechnic graduates’ preferences and aspirations. More polytechnic graduates are choosing to start work later, or plan to set up their own businesses.”

More graduates are also pursuing further studies, especially full-time studies, and fewer are economically active in terms of working or looking for jobs.  

“While the number of polytechnic graduates who cannot find employment has not changed significantly over the years, with the shrinking base of economically active graduates, this results in a rising unemployment rate. For polytechnic graduates who are seeking employment upon graduation, they continue to be in good demand in the job market,” the spokesperson added. 

The results of the survey, done last year based on responses from 10,151 fresh graduates and 5,022 post-NS graduates, were released on Friday (Jan 12).

Graduates who want to further their studies are a growing group that the 2017 survey’s committee has noted.

In November last year, the Manpower Ministry detailed in its advance 2017 labour force report that young people here are more inclined to go for further studies and are starting work later. Among other things, the report showed that the employment rate fell between June 2016 and June last year for residents aged 15 to 24, due to the young having a “higher propensity to pursue further education and postpone entry into the labour force”.

Among the polytechnic fresh graduates in the labour force last year, close to one-third are in part-time or temporary employment (30.9 per cent), with a handful doing freelance work (2.8 per cent). About five in 10 (52.8 per cent) had full-time permanent jobs.

For those in full-time jobs, the median gross monthly salary stood at S$2,200, a tad higher than S$2,180 in 2016.

For those who entered the workforce after NS, the median pay fell slightly to S$2,480 last year, down from S$2,517 in 2016.

In terms of their job status, six in 10 (64 per cent) of post-NS graduates were in full-time permanent jobs, and nearly two in 10 (17.7 per cent) were in part-time or temporary employment. The rest (8.1 per cent) were doing freelance work.

Similar to the findings on the overall cohort, the majority of post-NS graduates were in part-time, temporary or freelance employment because they were pursuing further studies, or preparing to do so.

Among the fresh graduates in full-time jobs, those from health-sciences diploma courses were the top earners, drawing the highest median gross monthly pay of S$2,500.

In second place were those from the built environment, engineering and maritime course category as well as information and digital technologies, both at S$2,200.

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