SIM Career & Internship Fair 2017
Guidance and promise of career growth essential for SMEs to appeal to interns and fresh graduates
In its 2017 business outlook survey results, SiTF noted that the talent situation for the ICM industry will remain tough – especially so for local SMEs. To bridge the talent gap, many SMEs have shifted employment to contract, part-time and freelance positions.
However, this may not solve the problem in the long-run and SMEs must look into refining their appeal to students to ensure the pool for a skilled ICM workforce is sustained.
Outreach efforts for talent have become increasingly important for the industry and recently, SiTF along with several of its SME members participated in the SIM Career & Internship Fair in a bid to showcase and secure potential candidates for internship and full-time positions. Over 2,000 students signed up to visit the Fair on 17 January and some voiced their hesitations about making SMEs their preferred choice as employers.
“If I were to join an SME, I would have to be already knowledgeable because there will be fewer colleagues in managerial roles to provide guidance. I’d likely join a bigger company to acquire skills and knowledge. Only then will I be able to contribute to an SME,” said Feliza Stefanie Kihata, 21, a final year Bachelor of Computer Science (Digital Systems Security) student.
Other students that SiTF spoke with also cited their main worry on applying with SMEs as being the lack of knowledge-sharing and mentorship even though they believe SMEs provide a well-rounded learning experience.
“Working with a SME is likely to be very stressful – because I have no experience and I don’t know what is expected of me. There’s probably a bigger workload for the individual because of the organisation’s size. But truth be told, as fresh grads, we have a better chance of being hired by SMEs compared to an MNC because they may not hire those without experience,” shared Goh Zhi Wei, 23, from the Bachelor of Computer Science (Multimedia and Game Development).
In terms of their commitment to the industry, many of them have voiced their intention to remain in their related field of study so long as they feel empowered and encouraged in their current roles. One possible way SMEs can compete with larger firms in attracting talent is to create internship opportunities that are fully immersive, giving them the chance to meet and work with mentors.
“Full-time positions require you to do the job independently so I would rather start with an internship to learn about the job environment and expectations from my employer or client,” said Li Zhihong, 22, from Bachelor of Information System and Management and has had prior work experience in his field of study.
Based on the poll of IT and Computer Science students at the SIM Career & Internship Fair, reassurance and encouragement is also needed to spur students to remain in the industry and pursue ICM as a long-term career rather than merely experimental. The opportunity for interns to be converted to full-time and for full-timers to see promotion and career growth paths is a weighty criterion in the decision making of students these days.
And while SMEs have invested heavily in training for interns and entry level hires, it seems that the misconception that only MNCs offer such programmes still exists among students.
To address the issues of talent leakage and SMEs’ challenges in attracting IT talents, SiTF has introduced the Structured Internship Programme (SIP). One key component of the SIP is to encourage SME member companies to attend a mentorship training workshop before taking on interns from the Institutes of Higher Learning. The objective of this training workshop is to help hiring managers become effective mentors in providing a meaningful and engaging internship experience as well as inspire interns to pursue their career in the ICM industry.
SiTF Head of Capabilities & Capacity Development Mr Bryan Yeo engaging with SMU students
“It is essential that we nurture the pool of local ICM talents to grow Singapore’s digital capabilities for the future economy” said Wong Shee Min of SiTF’s Talent Capabilities team.
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