At first, it was the IT industry, then came the life science industry, but in the end, there was so much supply that people had problems finding jobs after graduating. For the IT sector, many companies were bringing programmers from India and China, who usually command a lower wage than most Singaporeans for the same job.  I remembered that one manager once told me that with all these influx, it’s better for Singaporeans to learn how to “manage” them then to be fighting for the same job with them. Then again, how many can end up successfully as managers?

Then came the life science industry with much brouhaha, until Philip Yeo from A*Star back then said that all life science graduates will just end up being test-tube washers. True enough, most life science graduates that I know end up being lab assistants, sales people or doing other jobs that do not require the knowledge and skills of a life science student – with the most common job being a management trainee or a financial advisor; partly because there seemed to be better financial prospects. However, it is probably a real problem that unless life science graduates continue with their postgraduate studies, it may be a little challenging to do research on their own.

The news today triggered a thought in me – should we be looking for jobs with seemingly better prospects, at the risk of facing an oversupply when we graduate? Or should we just “go with our instincts” and do something that we really would love to – or at least have some liking. I remembered that when Singapore was going through a recession not too long ago, it was mentioned in the news that Singaporeans were too picky in their jobs and they should not reject jobs that require them to travel from one end of Singapore to another end. Assuming that a person stays in Punggol or somewhere in the East and takes public transport to, say, Pioneer North Road – that takes about 2 hours in a single direction; which means 4 hours are spent to and fro. On top of that, they are expected to spend time with their family (and kids) and be able to have a balanced lifestyle.

I used to spend 4 hours a day travelling on the road. I am not sure if I want to continue wasting 4 hours of my life in my work because that’s really a lot of time. Some might argue that we can spend time “resting” on the trains or bus, or perhaps do some reading up on stuffs. However, I am not sure if I’d still have that kind of energy after working for one whole day. Of course, I’d never know, at least not now; however, life does seem meaningless if it’s spent working, travelling and being really tired out when I reach home.

JASMINE Lingam is your average 22-year-old female polytechnic graduate – except that she aspires to be an aircraft maintenance engineer in an industry dominated by the guys.

Not just because she likes planes but because she knows the job comes with a passport to virtually anywhere in the world.

A booming aerospace industry – the business of repairing and maintaining planes and parts – means technicians and engineers often have jobs waiting for them, even before they are certified, said Mr Charles Chong, president of the Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore.

Still, it is an uphill struggle to convince school leavers to come on board, he said.

Many find the work unglamourous and are not thrilled about earning less pay – about $1,000 – during training which can take several months or even years.

He told The Straits Times at an industry forum on Tuesday: ‘Young people today prefer banking and finance….The biggest hurdle we face is getting them into our industry.’

The aerospace industry which now employs close to 19,000 people needs an estimated 1,500 new faces every year – 150 short of the number being churned out by training institutions.

Foreigners make up for the shortfall.

To lure more people in, the association works closely with the Government to raise awareness of the prospects that come with an aerospace career, and to raise skills levels so that job-seekers are assured of an attractive career path.

For example, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has extended its nationally recognised training programme, called Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ), to the aerospace industry.

Leading companies like Singapore Technologies (ST) Aerospace and Singapore Aero Engine Services (Saesl) support and recognise the programme by putting staff through the training.

The first batch of 82 graduates, including Miss Lingam who is a Saesl trainee technician, has completed one module of the programme.

Apart from skills upgrading, the association also has a recently-launched online portal www.AeroCareer.SG to match employers with job-seekers.

Since March, more than 400 job applications have been facilitated.

Article obtained from on 10th June 2008

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