With the Singaporean labour market still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining a work study programme (WSP) has become an even more appealing option for graduates determined to pursue their chosen careers.
WSPs offer a host of solid benefits over the typical paths to education and employment. Here are just 5 of the reasons you may want to consider entering a work-study programme.
1.) Earn While You Study
The prospect of earning a monthly income is, for many, the most compelling reason to go for a work-study programme. Participants in WSPs have the opportunity to offset or even cover their tuition and school fees through this income, which can go a long way towards providing a decent level of financial stability. What’s more, getting hired under a WSP also entitles participants to employee benefits.
Money is not the only valuable thing participants can earn, either. Participants also stand to maximise their time and effort. In a typical set-up, one could either study or work but rarely both at the same time. This means most people who want to undergo higher learning may have to forgo much of their income.
Because WSPs can run as long as 36 months, the time and cash savings one gets from being able to work and study simultaneously can be substantial.
2.) Develop Practical Soft Skills
Soft skills are highly sought after in the professional world precisely because people with such skills are extremely difficult to find, especially among fresh graduates. The term “soft skills” can be misleading, as it is these skills that usually determine whether or not someone progresses in their career.
Soft skills include things such as empathy, communicativeness, tact, teamwork, initiative, discipline, attention to detail, flexible thinking, discerning how to effectively tackle problems, and a host of other things your school may not have explicitly taught you.
As with any so-called “hard skills,” soft skills need to be cultivated before they become second nature. Most people do develop some soft skills over their formative years. However, the insulated environment of school and family life does not always allow for the full mastery of these until after graduation.
The very nature of work-study programmes makes them an excellent place to become a more rounded individual, which isn’t just great for you personally but also makes you more attractive to future employers.
3.) Get Access to Experienced Mentors
There are some extremely talented and knowledgeable lecturers out there, but comparatively few also actively work in their field in some other capacity. This means that very few teachers could also serve as true mentors for students. Fortunately, joining a WSP makes it far simpler to find a mentor in one’s chosen industry.
Companies that join work-study programmes have to assign mentors to students to help them understand the ins and outs of the business and provide insights that will help them progress in their careers. This is a huge benefit, as mentors are not necessarily guaranteed to employees who enter the business through some other means.
Mentors provide structured support and supervision, reducing the shock that often comes to fresh graduates who enter their first real job. Because WSPs last as long as three years, this setup provides a more in-depth look into the business than one might find in a much shorter internship. This may help participating graduates succeed and thrive later throughout their careers.
4.) Contextualise School Learnings
While good schools will provide students with a strong foundation, the best kind of education tends to happen when you’re out doing things. Work-study programmes facilitate this kind of deeper learning, allowing fresh graduates to better understand concepts that may still be abstract to them.
What’s more, because some theoretical training is done at school, WSP participants get to see the bigger picture beyond their everyday tasks at the worksite. Because participants typically spend 20% - 30% of their time doing off-site training at their school, work-study programmes are among the best possible options for graduates who want to make big waves in their chosen field
5.) Enjoy Preferential Hiring
All other things being equal, most businesses are more likely to hire graduates who underwent a WSP, simply because they do not have to waste time onboarding them. Employee onboarding is an expensive process, mostly because most new hires can’t be fully utilised for a few months. In contrast, hires who come from a WSP are probably already familiar with the company, which means a much shorter onboarding process, if any.
This preferential hiring doesn’t just hold true for companies who are partnered with the school’s WSP either. Professional experience earned through a work-study programme is, for all intents and purposes, considered to be just as good as that gained through other kinds of full-time employment.
Are Work-Study Programmes Right for You?
While work-study programmes have several benefits over traditional paths to upskilling and employment, they are not for everyone. WSPs are best for self-starters who could manage the demands of both work and academia. They’re also great for individuals who are fully committed to their chosen careers.
That being said, it’s a good thing that WSPs are now available in Singapore, as they have created numerous opportunities in an otherwise volatile labour market.