Career You Can Believe In
With Singapore’s growth forecast slashed for a second time in January 2009 and a plunging demand for its exports, the Trade and Industry Ministry said Singapore’s gross domestic product is now expected to contract between 2 percent and 5 percent this year.
This has a direct implication to the number on job availability. Already, the Acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said some 8,100 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced the massive Resilience Package on 22 January 2009 with an emphasis on help for businesses. "The focus will be to keep businesses afloat, so that they can provide jobs for Singaporeans," added Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Although the economy is heading south, there is hope. There will be more than 30,000 new jobs available in the construction, healthcare, public administration and the integrated resorts, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang. The fourth career fair held annually by a institute of higher learning (IHL), Republic Polytechnic’s (RP) career fair carried a positive message – "Career You Can Believe In" – to its graduating students. The 56 participating companies at the fair received 3,000 job applications.
Held on 15 January 2009, a week after RP’s Open House, the organising chair, Mr. Sundar W, said, "In the context of today’s economic situation, graduates should adequately prepare themselves for early employer engagement to maximise their job securing opportunities. Our graduates have and should continue to capitalise on the Career preparatory services and resources offered by the Student Career Centre to further their employment opportunities in a difficult and uncertain year ahead."
One key differentiating factor pointed out by Assistant Director (Industry Engagement) Tan Keng Chuan is the strong connectivity with RP’s career partners. He said, "Apart from engaging employers continuously to offer job opportunities to RP graduates, we regularly invites companies to conduct career talks and road shows on campus. These activities help employers brand their companies before the students graduate. This helps employers to keep a look out for potential employees."
This strategy has helped increase the number of participating companies at the annual career fair. In four years since its inception, the RP career fair has 56 participating companies. This is 3.5 times more than the first fair. The number of career talks has doubled too. RP also invites companies to post jobs on its online portal.
The office of industry and collaboration (OIC) also engages students via the Student Career Centre. They offer value added career-related services such as workshops on interviewing skills, resume writing, and career planning. There is a resource centre situated in the Library for students to access the facilities easily.
Unlike other institutions, RP’s career coaching service is an interactive process, which career coaches facilitate, and guide students through a process of career discovery and action plan in a series of sessions. These career coaches are academic staff from various faculties who volunteer to assist and provide guidance to students on career paths. Students relate better with someone familiar. This results in better counselling sessions.
A graduate at the career fair said, "RP’s career coaching service prepares students before they meet potential employees."
Indeed, this career service brings out together potential employers and student career-related value proposition. Over 60% of the graduating cohort found the career fair useful in securing their first employment and kick-start their career.
Click here to view snapshots of what happened on that day.