SINGAPORE: A total of 9,500 trainees have been placed in SGUnited jobs programmes within 2,500 companies by the end of February, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (Apr 12).
The initiatives – SGUnited Traineeships and the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme – were launched in mid-2020 to help Singaporean workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Both programmes have been extended and enhanced. From Apr 1, training allowances were raised for ITE and diploma graduates, as well as mid-career job seekers aged 40 and above.
Among the 9,500 taking part in the programme, four in five are recent graduates who qualify for the traineeships programme, while the remaining are mid-career job seekers.
Workforce Singapore (WSG) said that the majority of traineeships and attachments are ongoing, but as of end-February, 200 trainees have left the traineeship/attachment early and found full-time employment, including early emplacement with the host organisation.
Of the companies hosting the trainees, nearly nine in 10 are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the top sectors include ICT, financial services and professional services, MOM and WSG said.
WSG also reached out to more than 500 host companies with trainees who have ended or are ending their traineeship or attachment by June this year. 
Of these, more than 250 responded and 85 per cent of them said they have either converted or plan to convert suitable trainees to full-timers.
Among the remaining host organisations (15 per cent), key reasons for not converting the trainees include the trainee wanting to further studies, needing more time to assess the trainee, not having an available headcount or finding the trainee unsuitable for the job. 
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that last year, nearly half of those who received at least one traineeship or attachment offer turned it down, usually because they have been offered another traineeship, or they had found full-time jobs.
“My message to employers is that on the one hand, while you may be far more interested in fresh graduates coming in as trainees. Please also spend some time taking a look at mid-career individuals, there may well be hidden gems amongst them,” she said during a visit to insurer Prudential’s Singapore office.
She added that both programmes are providing the trainees with “meaningful work exposure”, while the companies can have more time and a holistic way of assessing the candidates for full-time jobs.
MOM said that another 15,000 traineeship and company attachment opportunities will likely be available in the coming months.
But WSG said that as unemployment eases and pockets of tightness appear in the labour market, it has started to observe a “moderated” pace of applications. 
“Nearly half of those who received at least one traineeship or attachment offer had turned it down, with fresh graduates more likely than mid-career applicants to do so,” it said. 
“The key reason cited was another traineeship or full-time employment opportunity.”
WSG said it has also observed that 70 per cent of applications went to 20 per cent of job vacancies. 
“Understandably, applicants focused on better-known organisations and prominent sectors. As a result, many did not secure any interview opportunity,” it said.
The agency suggested that applicants should consider applying to a broader range of host organisations, as well as those with fewer applicants.
Said Mrs Teo: “We’d like to encourage (applicants) to look beyond the usual … well-known household names, and also to consider putting in applications to companies that they may not have heard of before.”
MOM and WSG said that there continues to be “healthy interest” from host organisations and applicants in the programme. 
“Host organisation can also demonstrate their seriousness by converting suitable trainees early and profiling these success stories when engaging prospective applicants,” they said.
In 2020, 55,000 locals were placed into jobs, traineeships and attachments, said MOM in an earlier update in March.

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