POLYTECHNIC graduates continue to be in demand, earning a gross monthly salary of $2,007 last year, on average.

This is up from $1,930 in 2011 and $1,871 in 2010.

However, the annual polytechnic graduate employment survey, jointly conducted by the five polytechnics between October and November last year, also showed that the employment rate for fresh graduates dipped slightly.

The figure fell from 92.1 per cent in 2011 to 91 per cent last year, which was attributed to some moving on to further their studies at university instead of seeking a job. Tighter employment rules could also have affected the hiring prospects of foreign students.

The survey, whose findings were released yesterday, drew responses from more than 14,000 graduates. Over two-thirds were fresh graduates from last year and not required to serve national service. The rest were those who had graduated in 2009 but entered the job market after completing NS.

They were asked to respond based on their employment status as at Oct1 last year.

Post-NS graduates' gross monthly salaries also rose, from an average of $2,370 in 2011 to $2,474 last year.

A Nanyang Polytechnic spokesman said the higher pay indicates the value that employers place on the "training and skills" of polytechnic graduates.

Mr Josh Goh, assistant director for corporate services at recruitment firm The GMP Group, said inflation and a tight labour market also helped to push wages up.

On the dip in the number of graduates hired, he attributed this to more of them pursuing a degree instead of finding a job.

Mr Pan Zaixian, general manager at recruitment firm Kerry Consulting, said the tightening of criteria means foreign students may not find it easy to get a work visa.

Among the fresh graduates, about 65.4 per cent landed full-time jobs, down from 67 per cent in 2011. Despite this fall, Mr Pan said the employment figures are "still impressively high".

Among fresh polytechnic graduates with full-time permanent jobs, those with diplomas in the health sciences - including dental hygiene and therapy, nursing and occupational therapy - were the best-paid, with an average gross salary of $2,093 a month.

One graduate drawing higher pay is Mr Muhammad Khairul Ramllee, 27, who studied at the Institute of Technical Education and served NS before attending Singapore Polytechnic.

After gaining a diploma in civil engineering and management last year, he now earns more than $3,500 a month as an assistant civil engineer at energy giant Shell.

He said his previous work experience - as a freight forwarder in a logistics company for three months and a safety supervisor in a construction company for a year - gave him an extra edge.

Radiographer Wilfred Low, 24, also did several job attachments with Changi General Hospital before joining it full-time as a radiographer. He graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a diploma in diagnostic radiography last year and now earns more than $2,500 a month.

Mr Goh said this year's graduates should temper their expectations, as the overall hiring sentiment is still very cautious.

"Even though jobs would still be available, employers are generally more selective and they prefer graduates who possess that willingness to learn and a great attitude," he said.