SECONDARY schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will soon have trained career officers to help students make decisions about their long-term future.

Between 40 and 50 secondary schools and junior colleges will get them as part of a pilot next year.

The aim is to have one officer for every few secondary schools and junior colleges, and three to five in each of the five polytechnics and three ITE colleges.

Students at the latter two will also have a new programme covering areas such as career exploration across classroom activities, workshops and seminars.

A one-stop online portal will also be set up for students and working adults to make transiting to the workforce more seamless.

This will integrate existing resources in schools with the Workforce Development Agency's Individual Learning Portfolio, an online account for workers to track their training and job opportunities. It will also have features such as self-assessment tools, labour market information and course requirements for students.

Working adults will have access to information about upgrading and furthering their skills.

These moves are among recommendations by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee to strengthen education and career guidance efforts from school years to beyond graduation.

Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah, who chairs the committee, said that many young students may know they want to do well, but they "actually don't have an idea of what they might like to do".

Currently, schools do not have coaches or counsellors who are dedicated to providing students advice about their careers. Such advice is usually given by teachers and lecturers. Ms Indranee said the committee studied career counsellors in countries such as Switzerland, many of whom had worked in non-education sectors.

These officers will help students identify their interests and strengths, and understand the range of jobs and skills required in the workplace. To train people for this role, Republic Polytechnic will launch a specialist diploma in career counselling in October for individuals and educators.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said: "The aim is not to try and persuade students to go into specialised fields when they're very young, but to stimulate a lively interest in a variety of fields, and to see if some of this may catch the interest of the students."

Statistics show that every year, 400 to 500 junior college students switch to a polytechnic midway through their programmes. Many do this after realising they are interested in certain disciplines.

Mr Sim Cher Young, 52, director of the Dato' Kho Hui Meng Career Centre at Singapore Management University, said: "It's important to have career guidance available when young people are at the stage of making decisions, around 17 to 18 years old.

"The people advising them on their careers have to be skilled to guide them."