Amid the ongoing restructuring in the labour market, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore have found it increasingly important to rely on local hires.

The SME Talent Programme—SPRING Singapore’s new initiative to help SMEs attract more local talents—matches local polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates with trade associations and chambers.

Six trade associations and chambers and the Institute of Technical Education, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic have inked an agreement to launch the SME Talent Programme.

Previously announced in this year’s Budget, the scheme aims to attract local students to SMEs through the offer of a study award, which includes tuition fee sponsorship, a study allowance, and a sign-on bonus.

Upon graduation, the student will begin employment with a SME, as part of a two-year bond.

SMEs will be matched with suitable local polytechnic and ITE students through the participating trade associations and chambers, which are: Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Print and Media Association, Singapore, Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Textile and Fashion Federation (Singapore).

Up to 70 per cent of the cost of the study awards can be covered by funding from SPRING, the government agency tasked to help develop Singapore enterprises.

S$70 million worth of funds will be made available over the next five years.

The programme is expected to match 3,000 graduates to some 800 participating SMEs over the next five years.