“Study hard, get good grades, get a good job” is the mantra students often have in mind or are told as they go through school. After all, the grades in a school transcript are still being used by employers as one of the benchmarks of a fresh graduate’s employment and employability.
The attempt for good grades has also led to stress for many students.
According to a recent survey by the Inter-University Network, a network of university student unions, almost 90 per cent of undergraduates in Singapore said that work and study commitments were their most significant source of stress.
Polls by the Labour Movement this year also indicate that students place mental well-being as one of the top three concerns before entering the workforce.
Twenty-four-year-old undergraduate Ng Chia Wee said many of his peers care for their mental health because of the stressful education system.
“It is because we also grew up in a very competitive education system, in a system which has been acknowledged to be a rather stressful one. So we know the importance of managing stress, not just in school, which we are now moving out of, but also carrying this into the workplace as well.
“There really is no health without mental health. We can only be productive, we can only do work, we can only give as much as we can if we have mental wellness,” said the final year undergraduate from the National University of Singapore.
Planning for a career journey was another concern the youth have, according to the same polls by NTUC.
Chia Wee said that good grades are a minimum in a competitive job market. He added that students need to go through internships to stand out.
“Everyone you’re competing with, a lot of them probably come from the same university with the same degree. So it has to be the internships you carry with you that can help you stand out and signal to your employer that you are ready to step into the workforce,” he explained.
Chia Wee also said mentorships could go a long way to help students get career guidance and support during the transition to work.
He added: “I have been fortunate, along the last four years of my university journey, to meet many individuals who have given me the guidance I needed to help me think beyond my immediate circumstances, my immediate aspirations and to think about what I really want to do in the world of work and how I could possibly get there.”
Chia Wee is glad NTUC is reaching out to every worker to start a conversation and learn about their concerns and aspirations.
He added: “I think that is really true to the spirit of #EveryWorkerMatters, to help us understand that they matter. The workers are not just people entering the workforce; each of them and their journeys matter in their own right.”
He hopes that by the end of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, something will come out of it that could help workers.
He cited more mentorship programmes and having them accessible to all students as an example.
He explained: “I think if every worker matters, every young worker deserves that mentor that can help them get into the industry to help them navigate their way from school to work.
“I think that if every young person eventually has someone they can call their mentor, this project by NTUC will be a great success.”
The NTUC Youth Taskforce is part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, a larger-scale series of engagements by the Labour Movement to engage all workers across various life stages.
Find out more about the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations at conversations.ntuc.sg.