Bridging income gap between ITE, Poly, and Uni grads requires all of us to play a part. Lawrence Wong

bridging income gap between university and poly and ite grads requires all of us to play a part lawrence wong

How can we ensure that the rewards of work are fairer and more equitable? While income has grown across different segments of the workforce, there remains a big gap between the salaries of university graduates and that of the poly or ITE graduates. 

While some difference is understandable, too wide a gap can lead to problematic outcomes and adversely affect our social compact, DPM Lawrence Wong said. 

Such problematic outcomes include graduates choosing not to enter vocations they have been trained for. This was the case with many ITE students trained as lift technicians. Many were not entering the industry as their starting salaries at just $1300 was too low. This was in 2016. Many chose to do other jobs when they graduated.

“And that’s why we have since put in place the PWM for lift technicians. Starting salaries are now 40% higher (at $1,850 in 2022), and set to increase further over the next few years,” DPM Wong said at the 2023 IPS Singapore Perspectives

Skills and competencies, not just paper qualifications

Bridging the gap is not just about the starting salary, it is also about improved job prospects and better career progression across all fields. 

In the IT sector, for example, SGTech and the Singapore Computer Society are working on programmes with major tech companies to expand opportunities for ITE and Polytechnic graduates over the next three years.

Moving forward, we need to embrace a broader definition of what counts as ‘good jobs’ and to recognise skills and competencies rather than be overly focused on paper qualifications. 

This requires all of us to do our part. 

Instead of pigeonholing their workers or holding them back unfairly based on their starting qualifications, employers can train and recognise their workers instead. 

Consumers, on their part, must be willing to pay more for certain goods and services, to uplift the wages of those who provide them.


Basically, we can’t demand for services delivered by our fellow citizens to be priced cheaply, and in the same breadth lament that their wages are too low. It is completely inconsistent.

“Importantly, each of us, as parents, teachers, colleagues and friends, all of us must do our part to recognise and value one another, and accord dignity and respect to everyone for the work that they do,” said DPM Wong


In conclusion

Work has evolved, and will continue to evolve, DPM Wong said.


“But good jobs and work will always remain a key pillar of our social compact in Singapore. We will spare no effort to ensure that the labour market of the future offers benefits, opportunity and security for all.

“We will ensure that Singapore remains a place where everyone can progress throughout life; contribute meaningfully to society; and forge fulfilling and dignified lives, with greater assurance for today and tomorrow.”




On Key

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