Mr Muhammad Suhaib Mohd Seth, 24, had always dreamt of becoming an aircraft engineer. That was what led him to study aeronautical engineering at Singapore Polytechnic and get a mechanical engineering degree at the National University of Singapore (NUS). But those dreams are now on hold, given how the aviation industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I had sent out over 20 applications for jobs since May and got two callbacks, but nothing after that. So, I have been thinking about what else I could do as the indications are that it's going to take a long time for the aviation industry to recover," said Mr Suhaib, who completed his degree studies a few months ago.
Luckily for him, one of his professors told him about research traineeships being offered by NUS and he secured a position where he will get to conduct research into autonomous vehicles.
Mr Suhaib said: "AI-related research is, of course, very interesting and exciting, and I am sure I will learn a lot. My heart is still set on becoming an aircraft engineer, but you never know what this might lead to."
He is just one of more than 700 recent university graduates who have applied for traineeship positions at NUS, which is offering a total of 800 traineeships for up to a year across its faculties and research institutes as well as in administration.
According to Workforce Singapore, by mid-June more than 700 organisations, companies, government agencies and ministries had come on board the SGUnited Traineeships Programme.
Together, they offer more than 7,500 opportunities.
Targeted at recent graduates from institutes of higher learning, the programme aims to boost their employability by the time hiring demand picks up. They will receive an estimated monthly training allowance of $1,100 to $2,500, depending on their qualifications.
The traineeships have been progressively offered from early this month, and training allowances are co-funded by the Government.
The vast majority of firms hosting the trainees are small and medium-sized enterprises, such as Carousell, Yang Kee Logistics, Spic & Span and SGAG Media. There are also large firms like United Overseas Bank, Singtel, DBS Bank, Tata Consultancy Services and Baxter Healthcare.
POTENTIAL TO OPEN NEW DOORS
AI-related research is, of course, very interesting and exciting, and I am sure I will learn a lot. My heart is still set on becoming an aircraft engineer, but you never know what this might lead to.
MR MUHAMMAD SUHAIB MOHD SETH, on securing a position where he will get to conduct research into autonomous vehicles.
The roles offered are in marketing, finance, sales support, supply chain and quality assurance, as well as more niche ones, such as sports nutrition, social work, venture capital and 3D printing.
Tata Consultancy Services is offering IT-related roles such as cloud engineer, tech developer and user experience developer. It said it will consider applications by graduates from any discipline, though some knowledge or understanding of programming languages is preferred.
The Public Service and publicly funded sectors are offering positions in different areas of work, including community development and healthcare and social services.
At the People's Association, constituency manager trainees can look forward to playing a key role in bridging communities.
To make it easier for graduates to search for the traineeships, a Virtual Career Fair for traineeships will be held from today till July 12.
Recent graduates interviewed said that while the allowance does not match the pay of a full-time job, it is a good opportunity to pick up skills and earn some money.
Polytechnic finance graduate Anna Liu, 20, who has applied for such stints in two banks, said: "The traineeship allows me to learn more things, and if I perform well, the company may convert us to a full-time role."
Virtual career fair starts today
The Virtual Career Fair (VCF) for SGUnited Traineeships will run from today to July 12.
More than 300 host organisations are participating to offer close to 3,000 traineeship opportunities.
Fresh and recent graduates from the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics, universities and other educational institutions can visit the fair via https://SGUnitedTraineeships.gov.sg/vcf to browse and apply for traineeships that match their interests and aspirations.
They will also be able to access career-related resources and insights to further support them in their search.
Participating firms and organisations welcomed the scheme, as they will get to train potential talent for their company and the sector.
UOB head of group human resources Dean Tong said the bank wants to provide avenues where people can explore new career paths and build skillsets for the jobs of the future. The bank is taking in trainees in more than 10 business and support units for roles such as data analysts, user interface design analysts, business analysts, and risk and compliance analysts.
Besides learning on the job, the trainees will also be able to tap UOB's digital resource library comprising more than 6,000 courses ranging from digital technology to personal development.
SGAG, a popular Singapore social media website and news media company, received over 1,300 applications for two traineeships it offered in business development and accounts. It eventually picked two degree holders, who start next month.
Mr Karl Mak, chief executive and co-founder of Hepmil Media Group which runs SGAG, said he had been considering growing his team in Singapore but because of the pandemic, his plans were put on hold.
"However, when the Government announced this traineeship scheme, and provided support, we decided it was a great opportunity for us."
Looking forward to her SGAG traineeship is Singapore Management University psychology and marketing graduate Phedra Soh, 24.
"I especially like the fact that it's a start-up work environment and you get to take on many roles and in the process learn new things," she said. "It will teach me flexibility and adaptability - skills we all need to survive this crisis."