SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education has suspended the repayment and interest for all study loans for a year, to give graduates "peace of mind" during their job search, said Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Friday (Jun 5).
He was responding to questions by Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui on the efforts between the institutes of higher learning (IHLs) and government agencies to connect graduates with companies to provide employment opportunities.
The IHLs, from universities to polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education, have “a significant network of companies and employers” and have been leveraging them to provide internships and work-study programmes, said Mr Ong.
The institutes' career centres will also provide career guidance, labour market information and organise job fairs, he added. The intensity of efforts has been stepped up this year, with the use of online outreach and counselling tools to support graduates remotely.
FREE TRAINING MODULES
Institutes of higher learning will also offer two to four Continuing Education and Training (CET) modules free of charge to graduates who decide to delay their entry into the job market.
Mr Ong said: “We are in the process of structuring all these modules into a continuous programme, and provide credentials at the end of it.
“And that way, graduates can take up this programme and delay their entry into the labour market, (by) doing something very meaningful.”
Graduates can also enrol for further studies, including advance diplomas, specialist diplomas and graduate certification programmes.
In response to Ms Cheng’s question about internship opportunities during this challenging period, Mr Ong said that they have been disrupted due to the "circuit breaker" measures to curb the community spread of COVID-19.
However, he emphasised that IHLs are working hard to identify alternatives to mitigate impacts 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 take additional modules,” Mr Ong added.
While employers are facing difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many are “still prepared to hire” or offer SGUnited traineeships. The Government has set aside S$100 million to fund the SGUnited Traineeships Programme to boost graduates’ employability.
In addition, IHLs will contribute to the pool of about 100,000 opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package that the National Jobs Council is overseeing, said Mr Ong.
“COVID-19 will be a defining moment in our graduates’ lives. I am confident that our graduates will rise to the occasion and use this crisis to bring out the best in their generation.”