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    May 28, 2014

    France's way out of the problem

    SOME say that Singapore could take a leaf out of France's book when it comes to handling the graduate glut.

    To help match graduates with good job opportunities, the French government introduced a programme called the Volunteer for International Experience (VIE) in 2000.

    Under the programme, young graduates from France and the European Economic Area, aged between 18 and 28, are sent on an overseas working assignment, tagged to a French company.

    Graduates can choose from a variety of assignments across positions such as computer engineers, pharmacists, financial controllers, technicians, cost accountants, sales representatives and administrative staff.

    The stint can range from six to 24 months.

    The scheme - implemented by the country's agency for international business development, Ubifrance - aims to reinforce the international development of French companies while offering young graduates an opportunity to benefit from a formative experience abroad.

    It also enables employers to test future key managers, find talents for given projects, source for bilingual or trilingual professionals for companies and other organisations, and tackle localised labour shortages.

    In 2010, for example, 6,500 French interns were attached to 1,550 companies overseas.

    On average, 60 per cent of former VIE graduates have been offered a permanent position with the host company after their VIE contract, according to Ubifrance.

    Singaporean economist Shandre Thangavelu, an associate professor at the University of Adelaide, said that such a programme would be "good for us to have".

    "It encourages people to go out and gain experience, which helps them to gain a broader perspective and mobility as part of the workforce," he said.

    "Local companies can also expand their global networks at the same time.

    "It's a win-win situation."