The writer of this article wishes to remain anonymous.
For the coming batch of fresh graduates, there will be no doubt that employment will be the biggest worry on their minds. With the financial crisis, companies will be facing serious cash flow problems due to stricter lending policies by the banks. Not only are the banks (one of the biggest employers in the past) cutting the number of graduate hires, corporations in other industries will also be doing the same. In addition, retrenched workers will inevitably be fighting for a smaller number of jobs with fresh graduates.
There are serious implications to the graduate glut this employment season. For one, we are sure that many graduates will be forced to take on temporary contract assignments. What about the graduates who fail to find any decent employment? Are they expected to work on temporary assignments for say, $6 - 7 dollars an hour? How will this pay enable them to pay for sustainable support for their retiring parents and their marriage plans?
A decision to take on an undergraduate degree programme is an expensive one. The opportunity cost is 3 to 4 years of experience and wages applicable to an A level holder or a diploma holder. Assuming the prospect works for $1500 a month for that 3 to 4 years (including a compounding rate of 4% to take into consideration inflation rate and real growth rate of money), the amount could be up to $73,000. Along with this opportunity cost, we add the tuition fees of approximately $30,000 for a 3 to 4 year course in a local institution and we discover that the real cost of undertaking a graduate programme is about $100,000 SGD. With this amount of investment, how do you expect any graduate to even consider marriage, child birth or taking care of retiring parents? To add to this amount, we know to consider that a tuition loan charges the graduate interest soon after his graduation, therefore the expected amount might increase even more!
As an undergraduate leaving school in the coming month of May, I worry about landing a job and facing the huge tuition loan ahead. At the age of 24, I also wonder how long before I can even start thinking about getting married and having my first child. In this light, I can confidently say that the birthrate will not increase. The quality of life, which is heavily dependent on job security, will be affected. With more stress and uncertainty, our work efficiency will also be affected.
The process of graduate recruitment is at best, at a crawling pace. The graduates and the retrenched are now fighting for a smaller pool of jobs. I wonder if the government will address this pressing issue soon. On a final note, finding employment, to a graduate, is not just about finding financial independence. It is the answer to one's social and emotional security, the solution to retire their tuition loans and the only tool to start a family and to support their retiring parents.
About the author
The writer is a first class honours student from a local university with double majors in Banking and Finance and Marketing. He remains jobless at the point of writing this essay. Graduate recruitments programmes usually end around November to early January period.