Uncertain times for new graduates

13 April 2020
The Straits Times IN

The Straits Times’ Ang Yiying covered a feature story of tertiary students graduating in uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The article mentioned that some 26,000 polytechnic students and 6,500 students from Institutes of Technical Education will graduate next month and in July without the usual graduation ceremonies. At least one university, the Singapore Management University, has made alternative arrangements to conduct a virtual ceremony, it announced in a circular to students on April 5. Others, such as the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, say they are still monitoring the situation. Graduating in a year marked by a global pandemic has also disrupted the plans of the 2020 graduating cohort in other ways. Many have had to cancel plans for once-in-a-lifetime graduation trips with friends and also grapple with the uncertainty about finding employment in a challenging job market.

Graduating students spoke of the uncertainty they face, with news of companies reducing operations and having difficulties in holding on to staff. For some, their fields of study may have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and the precautionary measures to stall its spread. Mr Gabriel Ching, 23, who is completing a degree programme in Arts Management, which is validated by the University of Essex, at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), is fully aware of the challenges facing the arts industry. “It’s really heartrending to see the situation of the industry, from a full calendar of cultural events to essentially all performing arts shows for live audiences cancelled,” he said. So far, cancelled events in the arts sector have cost theatre companies, orchestras and more some $2.6 million. His schoolmate, Ms Priscilla Wee, 23, said that if she could not find a full-time job, she was willing to work as an intern. “If I have no choice, I would then do it. In order to gain more experience, you have to start somewhere.” Mr Jerry Soo, Vice-President (Academic) of NAFA, said that on top of other support for graduating students: “Additionally, we encourage graduating students to approach their respective internship companies to seek job opportunities. They are also advised to consider higher education, upskilling or traineeships during potential economy downturns for stronger employability.”

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.