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NTUC Launches Career Starter Lab, a Solution for That “2 Years' Working Experience Needed” for Fresh Grads

Last Updated on 2023-05-11 , 1:47 pm

Job seeking is hard, especially if you’re a fresh graduate. Straight out of the door, employers demand stellar grades and work experience, sometimes even for entry-level positions.

Yes, I’m still finding the logic on how fresh graduates could have two years’ working experience.

In light of the merciless job hunt, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is piloting a new scheme, hoping to alleviate the difficulties fresh graduates face in their career search. Under the new NTUC Career Starter Lab initiative, graduates with an enhanced work trial can kickstart their career journeys. 

Since retiring after school, unfortunately, isn’t an option, this might be the next best thing.

Now, what’s this?

Engaged 10,000 Youths In Developing the Scheme

As part of NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, the labour movement has engaged 10,000 youth, 4,000 of which shared the top three resources they needed to transition from school to work. 

Quality internships were ranked the highest amongst youth surveyed, with 31.4% listing it as their most sought-after resource. This was followed by career mentorships (18.4%) and part-time work (17.6%).

According to youths, a “quality internship” entails proper supervision, mentorship and clear roles—clearly, everyone’s sick of the dreaded internship boss who relegates you to being a coffee mule.

Considering this, NTUC plans to collaborate with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) like universities, polytechnics, and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), as well as companies with shared ideals, to pilot the NTUC Career Starter Lab scheme.

Who is Involved?

The scheme, developed in partnership with the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), aims to aid youth in kickstarting their careers and ease the transition between school and the workplace. 

It’s targeted at fresh graduates of IHLs and National Servicemen who’ve just completed National Service.

The pilot scheme is supported by SNEF, relevant ministries like the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), as well as other partners and employers.

It aims to reproduce the hallmarks of a quality internship, as identified by youth—as such, workplace mentorship will be provided to them through mentors engaged by Young NTUC and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability) network.

What’s it About?

So, what exactly is this scheme about?

The NTUC Career Starter Lab scheme is actually an enhanced career trial model, aiming to support youth starting out on their desired career paths.

Under the programme, IHL graduates will be matched with an in-company mentor, helping them gain clarity on their workplace and the industry. 

Kind of like Tinder for fresh graduates, just that they’re matching you with good internships instead of people who catfish.

It aims to remedy common shortcomings at internships or entry-level positions. Through the model, youth can experience an onboarding process that adequately familiarises them with their company’s culture and help them clearly understand their roles and expectations on the job.

Meaningful work will also be assigned, meaning their work will be relevant to the course they studied. Hopefully, there’ll be no more irrelevant and uninteresting duties, since the scheme hopes to provide youth with work that has clear learning aspects, and hands-on, purposeful tasks that help in information retention and memory.

Proper supervision and mentorship will also be available. This helps youth gain insight into their industry and understand their workplace’s culture, fostering deeper learning and development.

What’s In It For Youths

This will be valid for all youths who graduated from ITE, polytechnic or university on the year that they graduate, or on the year that they ORD.

Since the employers are screened by NTUC and SNEF, the internship role is a structured one, with training allowance and a chance to convert to a full-time role should you perform well.

It’ll be well-guided and meaningful, and most importantly, you’d be paired with a mentor. Remember, the employer must have proposed a system for the interns, so you’d definitely not be regulated to a coffee boy.

But would employers bite?

What’s In It for Employers

Yes, simply because it relieves the current manpower crunch, and it can help them build their talent pool for the present and the future.

Just like a Tinder date, it also allows the employers to find fresh graduates that’ll fit into their workforce.

Simply put, this is a solution for them, since NTUC and SNEF would step in to help them in “recruitment”; just ask anyone in HR and they’d agree.

When Will It Be Launched?

NTUC plans to launch the NTUC Career Starter Lab by the second half of 2023. 

The initiative was announced ahead of NTUC’s 2023 May Day celebrations, by NTUC Secretary General Mr Ng Chee Meng. 

Despite May Day being more widely known as a public holiday where you don’t need to head to work, May Day actually celebrates labour.

“Youth are our future workforce. As Every Worker Matters, NTUC wants to play a bigger role in meeting our youth’s needs and serving them better as they kickstart their careers. The NTUC Career Starter Lab will help our youth seize good opportunities so that they can progress into their careers with confidence,” Mr Ng said. 

He added that NTUC intends to rally more progressive employers to participate in the scheme—as of now, more than 100 companies will be on board by the end of this year.

Understanding Concerns and Aspirations of Youth

Currently, NTUC is already supporting NSFs through career and education fairs, in partnership with MINDEF and MHA. They also offer NSFs free courses on the SkillsFuture @NS Learning eXperience Platform (SG@NS LXP). 

NSFs can participate in the NTUC Career Starter Lab as well. 

In order to better support youths, NTUC’s Youth Taskforce, led by the youth wing of the labour movement, Young NTUC, has reached out to upwards of 10,000 youths across IHLs to understand their work-life aspirations and goals better.

Through dialogue sessions, focus group discussions, and surveys, NTUC hopes to assist youths as they embark on their career paths. 

Youth can visit the Youth Taskforce website here to learn more, and share their perspectives on the workplace and the workforce—you can even write about your fatalist thoughts about the future of work, your concerns and fears regarding your boss, or stay positive by sharing your lofty career dreams. 

To keep up-to-date with programmes by NTUC that can help you gain a headstart in your career, you can follow Young NTUC on their social media channels. Their Instagram handle is @young.ntuc, and you can find them on TikTok at Young NTUC or on Facebook here.

The NTUC Youth Taskforce is part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, which is a series of engagements by NTUC aiming to engage and support workers across all life stages and industries. Their website is linked here.

As part of their movement, NTUC has engaged over 40,000 workers across different worker segments in the past ten months. 

In July 2023, the NTUC Youth Taskforce will conclude its engagements. They will then share their findings to shed light on and address the hopes and concerns of youth in aspects like career, finances, and mental well-being.

This article was first published on Goody Feed and written in collaboration with NTUC.

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