WHILE his peers are gunning for cushy jobs in multinational firms, student Brian Ng is taking the road less travelled. Mr Ng, 21, believes big is not necessarily best and has opted for a job in a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).

The second-year supply chain management student at Republic Polytechnic will take up a post at fresh produce wholesaler Ban Choon Marketing after he completes his national service in 2017.

He signed up for the SME Talent Programme, a government initiative to point talented people to smaller companies, as he was drawn by the prospect of more intensive training and a hands-on working experience.

The programme, unveiled in last year's Budget, matches polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students with SMEs to help firms with their talent development and restructuring efforts.

The scheme pays the students' school fees and a monthly allowance.

Polytechnic graduates get an $8,000 sign-on bonus while those from ITE will get a $4,000 bonus. They will be bonded to the sponsoring SME for two years.

Up to 70 per cent of the costs incurred by sponsoring SMEs will be covered by enterprise development agency Spring Singapore.

"It is rare to get such benefits as a fresh graduate looking for a career," said Mr Ng.

Mr Lim Thiam Lye, Ban Choon Marketing's assistant human resources and administration manager, said SMEs struggle with the challenge of attracting Singaporeans - especially young people - to work for them.

He hopes the SME Talent Programme will prompt more young people to consider working at SMEs.

"Most young talents don't want to join SMEs, and would rather join multinational companies," he said.

"In the upcoming Budget, we hope SMEs can get more help with encouraging locals to work for us."