More scholarships from the maritime sector are going to students already enrolled in tertiary institutions.
This year, 28 of 40 scholarships awarded by companies through the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) went to students already in universities and polytechnics. Last year, only 23 of 42 scholarship awardees were midway through their studies.
The number of scholarships awarded to fresh A- or O-level graduates has also fallen from 19 last year to 12 this year.
Maritime firms are giving out more midterm scholarships as they believe tertiary students can graduate more quickly to start work, and are more decided about their career choices, compared to fresh O- and A-level graduates.
Mr Haider Nawaz, managing director of Red Dot Shipping, said: "Final-year students have done their research and chosen their course specialisations.
"They're very much decided, whereas students who are just starting tertiary education might change their minds halfway."
Companies confirmed that there is a substantial cost difference between sponsoring a midterm student and a fresh tertiary student - which may explain why scholarship investment made through the SMF totalled approximately $815,000 this year, compared with $1.1 million last year.
According to Mr Tim Muehlena, managing director of F.H. Bertling Chartering and Ship Management, the firm spent about $40,000 supporting one fresh A-level graduate last year. The same sum paid for two scholars already studying in Nanyang Technological University.
However, companies said cost is not the main factor.
Instead, Mr Muehlena said: "We took on more existing tertiary students last year because they were available to work for us sooner - something which matters in an industry like this where, at any stage, your staff might leave."
Mr Tamilarasan Teyagarajan, 24, applied for the MaritimeONE scholarship given through the SMF midway through his mechanical engineering course at National University of Singapore.
He opted for a midterm scholarship as he wanted to decide on the type of maritime industry to join.
"Waiting until my third year of university to pick a specialisation helped me be sure about joining the offshore gas and oil sector, where I see a huge potential for Singapore."
On the other hand, Ms Koh Ke Hui, 18, applied for a scholarship after her O levels. The first-year student at Singapore Polytechnic said: "After doing my research at 16, I set my heart on joining the maritime industry.
"I really love the sea, and am confident that I want to work here."
This article was first published on August 30, 2014.
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