Singapore Businesses’ Guide to Hiring Interns + Grants For Interns 2021

internship

Article was published on 22 Mar 2021 and updated on 25 June 2021

There is no shame to admit, in the middle of a COVID-19 fuelled economic recession, that sometimes our business does need an extra hand but our coffers are little too empty even with the best of intentions.

The raft of Government support measures introduced last year, many of which have been extended till this year, included many schemes targeted at helping businesses to save or create new jobs, which indicates the powers that do understand the situation.


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We’ve previously covered programmes such as the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme and the Senior Worker Support Package. These are meant for mid-career job seekers whose livelihoods were affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus and to increase the employability of, and to encourage retention of, senior Singaporean workers, respectively.


There is also the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, where recent graduates of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics, universities and other institutions could enter into a traineeship (lasting up to 12 months) and receive a monthly training allowance.


All these measures include either grants or wage subsidies provided by the Government to the companies taking on staff under these programmes, which goes a long way in helping businesses fulfil their manpower needs without exorbitant cost.


However, as with all Government support, there are eligibility criterias that need to be fulfilled, and if your business does not fit the remit of these programmes, then you may have to look for other options instead.


One potential stopgap might be for business owners to offer internship opportunities to students or graduate students from a relevant field, which may help to tide over staffing needs while also providing practical experience to a new generation of the workforce.

Time periods to take note of when hiring interns in Singapore

The process of hiring an intern starts with familiarising yourself with the various periods in the year when certain groups of people are more likely to be free and looking for internships.


People who have just completed their JC education and are waiting to enter National Service, as well as men who have completed their National Service and are waiting to enroll in university are likely to be available from around February to August each year.


Polytechnic students looking for an internship during their vacation will be needing them either from the end of February to April, or end of August to October. Graded internships as part of their curriculum could last as long as 42 weeks and would depend on the school and course.


For ITE students, internships last between 10-20 weeks and commence in January or July (Nitec) and April or October (Higher Nitec).


Local universities’ summer internships will be from May or June till August.




Of course, if you are willing to offer flexible work hours, some students who are confident in juggling school with work would be happy to take on part-time internships to gain professional experience.

Young professionals who might not be students anymore but are looking to enter into a new field of expertise might also be willing to take on internships as the beginning step of their new journey. These sorts of internships can obviously begin anytime and might last longer (like perhaps half a year). There might also be a higher expectation of permanent employment if the candidate performs sufficiently well during the internship.

Where to go to hire interns in Singapore


There can be any number of ways to seek out interns for hire, not least of which is the traditionally conventional method of simply asking friends, acquaintances, and family members if they know anyone who is looking for internship experience.

But of course, there are also other more reliable ways.


1) Job/Internship Portals

The obvious option – ever since the internet effectively replaced the classified ads section in newspapers, online job portals have been the main mechanism through which employees and employers are matched. Many job portals include categories for internship and training listings. The Singapore Government supported MyCareersFuture SG is one such example. Other major sites like JobCentral and Indeed are also applicable.

It should also come as no surprise that there are job listing sites that cater exclusively to internship placement. InternSG is one such platform, and it even provides directives and advice for both employers and employees on the various Government support measures we have mentioned above.

Employers typically have to create an account with these portals and submit some identifying documents to prove their legitimacy. They can then begin to create listings for potential candidates to respond to.


2) School career portals/offices

Universities and polytechnics have their own systems in place to arrange for their students to take on internships, and they can differ from each other in varying ways.

Hiring university interns is slightly more straightforward. NUS, NTU, and SMU all have their own dedicated portal under which you must create an employer account.

For NUS, internships during the semester are credit-bearing and thus require more oversight. Each respective faculty will have their own requirements and registration/recruitment methods, so you will need to look up the relevant page on NUS’ website. Internships during vacation periods have a more general requirement; you will need to create an account on NUS TalentConnect and post internships as an employer, pending approval from the school.


NTU has a similar system under which there are also different requirements for different faculties. While some faculties provide an application form which you can download and fill up, most of them will require you to create an account with their InPlace portal.


Despite a more futuristic name, SMU’s OnTRAC II System operates in the exact same fashion as a career services management platform. There is less initial information about internship programmes at SMU provided, but it has been said that the staff might be more hands-on at facilitating your job posting once you have signed on to their portal.

For polytechnics, the recruitment process might be more convoluted as polytechnic students are on formal industrial attachments and will be graded upon their conclusion. You will need to read their terms and conditions carefully, and be prepared to take on some additional paperwork in terms of evaluating the student intern’s performance.


While Singapore Poly only requires registration on their application portal and then submitting an application form of sorts, Ngee Ann Poly’s Internship Management System (IMS) mandates logging in via  CorpPass. Meanwhile, Temasek Poly only needs you to fill up an application form with the corresponding department.

For ITE internship or traineeship, one can apply via here and reach out to the internship coordinators from the relevant schools. 

3) Social Media

Another way to do it these days is to simply hop onto social media platforms such as Facebook and announce vacancies on your own page. You may also post job listings on various groups and pages to get more attention.

As a professional social networking platform, LinkedIn is also well-poised for such endeavours, having algorithms in place that will put your job listing in the view of candidates with relevant skills and experience. Some options will require a premium paid account, however.

Employers can also make use of this telegram chat: GRADSETGO Internships - a startup that matches employers with potential interns or unpaid internships

Are there any grants available for hiring interns?


Yes, namely the Global Ready Talent Programme (GRT). It is applicable for interns from ITE, polytechnics, and universities. You may find mention of a SME Talent Programme (STP) as well, but it appears to have been amalgamated into the Global Ready Talent Programme, although certain industry partners may still refer to the former name.

This programme is an initiative by Enterprise Singapore to help enterprises engage and attract local talents from ITE, Polytechnics and Universities to join them. Under the internship arm of this programme, SMEs can offer student internships and are eligible for up to 70 per cent support covering the internship monthly stipend.

To be eligible, companies must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding

  • Have group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million OR group employment size of not more than 200 workers

  • Possess sound Human Resources systems and commitment towards talent development

  • Be willing to participate in Enterprise Singapore’s Human Resource Maturity Diagnostics (HRMD)


Enterprise Singapore has appointed STP Approved-in-Principle (AIP) partners to administer this grant, and you will need to approach one of them for more information. The list of AIP partners can be found here.




Regardless of which AIP partner you work with, you will need to create an account before the interview process using your CorpPass and provide more details about your company as well as uploading mandatory supporting documents. The latter includes an ACRA statement (no later than 6 months old) and the latest financial statements (no later than 18 months old). Once your application has been successful, you will be notified via email and you can then begin posting internship listings on GRTNet.


Read also: Income Tax 2021: Tax Deductions On Work From Home Expenses

Read also: What Are The Benefits And Hiring Grant Incentives For Hiring A Senior Worker In Singapore


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