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MAS' subsidy to financial institutions to employ fresh grads misguided.

Better to help needy than give handouts to fresh grads

THE Government will encourage banks and other financial institutions hit by the recession to take on new graduates by offering to subsidise the recruits' allowances for up to a year,” reports the Straits Times on 13 March 2009.

It goes on, “Assuming that all the $15 million is utilised in the first year and each trainee gets a monthly allowance of $1,500, the financial sector could absorb between 900 and 1,200 fresh graduates if the MAS pays between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of their monthly allowances.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that S$15 million has been set aside for the scheme.

Firstly, I would like to ask if this amount could be put to better use, such as helping the poor and the needy.  This amount could sustain 2,500 families with a monthly $500 for a year. This time period could act as a buffer for the breadwinner, who may be unemployed, to find another job. This buffer could also give affected families 12 months to adjust their finances and cut down expenditure. Also, this amount can act as subsidies to employ the retrenched who badly need jobs.

The $15 million MAS plans to give out is targeted at fresh graduates. As a fresh graduate myself, I think this may be unfair. There are other segments of the population which needs this amount more than fresh graduates who have better chances of surviving this financial crisis because they do not have wives or children to feed - although there could be some graduates who need the money to support their families immediately. However, could they not join the public service which have been advertising that they are recruiting by the thousands, such as the Ministry of Education?

Even if this amount is used to help fresh graduates get employment in the finance industry, how many fresh graduates will be helped? What if the participating financial institution offers mostly internships and industrial attachments? Will this really translate into 1,000 full time financiers next year? I believe not.

Fresh graduates can seek income from giving tuitions and participating in part time work. These graduates can also seek employment in other industries. MAS hopes to spur the financial sector to continue to invest in talent. I may be wrong, but isn't it better to boost the standards of finance courses in tertiary institutions if MAS really wants to invest in talent? In this case, the $15 million can be spread across more students. 

I understand that investments in talent is important. But in times like this, I think it is better to help the needy who are struggling to even make ends meet.

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The letter writer wishes to remain anonymous.

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