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Singapore’s future workforce still see Google as the most ideal employer.

By Universum on 04/06/2020

Study also shows that IT talent has the highest salary expectation amongst Singapore’s graduates. 

Singapore, 12th May 2020 – Today, Universum launches the findings from the Singapore portion of its annual global talent survey. This year, over 10,000 students from NTU, NUS, SMU, SUSS, SIT and SUTD, participated in the survey, accounting for about 10% of all University students in Singapore.  

>> Click here for download the report

Some of the highlights from this year’s study include: 

IT student’s salary expectation remain the highest 

The salary expectation of IT graduates remains the highest amongst Singapore students. From the survey, it shows the annual salary expectation from IT graduates upon graduation is $52,467 SGD, while business students expect a yearly salary of $45,777 SGD and engineering and natural sciences students expect $47,085 SGD. This gap could grow further with the increased demand for digital talent being fueled by factors such as the recent pandemic and resulting Circuit Breaker.  

Mike Parsons, managing director for Universum APAC said “2020 will be a challenging year for graduates in Singapore to start their careers due to the impact of the Coronavirus. This will be especially prominent amongst the worst hit industries such as leisure and tourism, aerospace, oil and gas, and banking, where many of Singapore’s most favoured employers sit. This will undoubtedly lead to increased competition for places and, counterintuitively, for talent. Looking back at our data from the last global crisis [2008-2010] we can see that despite an increase in job seekers, recruiting for key skills actually gets much more difficult in times like these. This is down to several factors, including increased demand for the skills needed during a crisis and the way talent hunkers down and becomes highly risk adverse, retreating to choices that are perceived to be safer, and being less willing to switch employer or career path.” 

Sadly, it looks as if the salary disparity between males and females in Singapore will not be fixed any time soon. The most pronounced gap in pay expectations between genders can be seen amongst business students, where females expect to be paid 11% less than their male counterparts do. At 6%, the salary expectations gap between female and male IT students is less, but still a concern.  

Graduates’ Most Preferred Choice 

The survey shows that, except for those studying Humanities/Liberal Arts/Education, students in Singapore prefer to work for an international company after graduation. Although the data shows working for a start-up or starting their own business is an unpopular choice among most fields of study, 15% of IT talent would like to either have their own business or work for a start-up, the most of any group.  

Public sector and government agencies gaining popularity among IT students 

Despite most talent showing a strong desire to work for international organisations, several public sector employers saw an increase in their ranking positions, especially among IT talent. The biggest gainers in ranking include Economic Development Board (+37), Ministry of Finance (+28) and Jurong Town Corporation (+28). The industry’s rise in popularity can be partly attributed to students perceiving this sector as offering good work-life balance, flexible working conditions, secure employment, and having respect for its people.  

Business students in Singapore are still most attracted to banks, with 44% of them choosing banking as their most preferred industry. In comparison, 28% of engineering and natural sciences students chose aerospace and defence as their most preferred destination for employment. 

Top Career Aspirations  

When asked about the elements students look for in an employer, both business and IT students said they prioritise an employer who can provide them with “high future earnings” and “professional training and development.” This stands in contrast to those who come from an engineering and natural sciences orientation, who prioritise a friendly work environment and work-life balance as their top two most important attributes when assessing potential employers.  

This year’s survey shows that engineering and natural sciences students ranked innovation as the top attribute that is attractive to them in terms of employer reputation and image. This is an interesting contrast compare to past years, when they most favoured employers with an inspiring purpose. 

Student’s Choice of Communication Channel 

The survey also explored students’ online behaviour and how they learn about and engage with prospective employers.  The data showed that 80% of students visit employer booths at career fairs and campus events, 74% participated in personality/skills assessments and 70% attended presentations hosted by employers. This gives a clear message that career seeking students in Singapore value human interaction.  With the current Circuit Breaker situation and social distancing measures, this poses a major challenge for both talent and employers alike. The insights help to recommend that employers look for ways to continue providing a human touch when engaging and recruiting student talent digitally or from a distance.  

When it comes to learning about employers online, the most used digital channel by students are the employer’s careers page, followed by the corporate website and the company’s LinkedIn page. Students consider topics that focus on advancement opportunities, training & development and remuneration & benefits as most important when trying to learn more about a future career. The messaging employers opt for when communicating with talent has a large impact on how talent perceives them, making insights into these talent preferences critical to the success of any communications or recruitment marketing strategy.     

To this, Mike Parsons commented “The economic conditions thrust upon us by the Coronavirus will have a big impact on future talent preferences, especially on preferred employers. Every day we are seeing decisions from employers that are having a profound impact on their workforce, their communities, and their brands, be it positive or negative. Employers who’ve been able to do things such as retool or use their resources to help local communities are undoubtedly being positively recognised for their actions by talent. Conversely, employers who’re laying off staff or making decision that are having a negative impact on their people, are often considered by talent to be showing their true colours or lacking in strength and stability – thus hurting their own talent brands and future ability to attract talent. Through this critical time, employers need to ensure they’re communicating effectively with both current and future talent – but they need to avoid the trap of appearing to leverage the current situation for their own gain, or of straying too far from their values or core value proposition.”  

While most students chose teachers/professors as one of their most trusted source of career advice, the insights also showed 50% of business students rely heavily on the career advice they receive from their friends. This indicates that experiences gained from internships and other interactions with employers play a crucial part in how talent view employers, and that word of mouth should not be underestimated.  

>> Click here for download the report

The Top 10 IDEAL Employers among Business, Engineering/ Natural Sciences and IT students are as follows: 

Business Engineering/ Natural Sciences 

Rank Employer Name  Rank Employer Name 
1 Google  1 Google 
2 J.P. Morgan  2 A*STAR 
3 Singapore Airlines  3 Rolls-Royce 
4 Changi Airport Group  4 Singapore Airlines 
5 Walt Disney Company  5 ST Engineering 
6 Goldman Sachs  6 Changi Airport Group 
7 Apple  7 ExxonMobil 
8 DBS  8 GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) 
9 Facebook  9 Apple 
10 PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)  10 Defence Science & Technology Agency 


Rank Employer Name 
1 Google 
2 Microsoft 
3 Apple 
4 Facebook 
5 Amazon 
6 Grab 
7 Government Technology Agency 
8 Shopee 
9 J.P. Morgan 
10 DBS 

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