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Singapore’s future professional workforce still prioritizes a good work-life balance but have concerns about too much remote work

By Universum, 2023-06-28

Female students ranked work-life balance and secure employment as top career aspirations. Meanwhile, male students prioritize employers who offer strong compensation now and in the future.

Today, Universum launches the findings from the Singapore portion of its annual global talent survey, with more than 10,000 participating students from six universities. The research sets out to track the career aspirations and preferences of Singapore’s future talent pool, the survey also recognises the most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected.

This year, local champion A*STAR retained its position as the most attractive employer among engineering and natural sciences students, while the Ministry of Education gained one place and emerged as the most ideal employer for Singapore’s humanities/liberal arts/education students. Google retains its position as the top choice for both business and IT talent.

The survey reveals the banking sector continues to increase in popularity among the highly coveted IT cohort and remains the top industry choice for business talent. Meanwhile, aerospace and defence was the top choice for engineering students.

Students have confidence in the job market but still value security

The research reveals that 46% of respondents plan to stay with their first employer for two years or less, with only 9% of graduates believing it is best to stay with their first employer for the long haul. However, they highly value job security, which ranks 4th out of the 40 different attributes measured. This points to the low levels of trust and loyalty seen in the employee/employer dynamic, which seems to be a factor in the higher-than-usual levels of attrition we have observed in most industries right now. A heightened level of churn that could be here to stay for some time.

Increased concerns in remote work setup

The data shows young talent in Singapore prioritize employers who encourage work-life balance, offer high future earnings and provide a friendly work environment.

Mike Parsons, Managing Director of APAC for Universum, said, “We know that talent can be demanding, in general, and that things are no different here in Singapore. What is interesting, however, is just how highly young local talent prioritize work-life balance in this market, possibly as a symptom of living in such a career-focused country that so highly prizes academic and career achievement.

A standout characteristic of Singapore’s young professional workforce is how pragmatic and forward-thinking they are. Over the years, all through the data, we have seen this group prioritizing things like growth, development, career path, and future earnings over things more immediate, such as base salary and benefits. Even in the face of high inflation, this has not changed much.”

The appetite for remote working opportunities upon graduation has increased, with 73% of respondents indicating a preference for remote work opportunities compared to 69% the year before. However, the survey also shows that concerns around remote working are also increasing, especially the impact it would have on building social connections with co-workers (2023: 49%, 2022: 46%) and feelings of employer bias for in-person employees (2023: 45%, 2022: 39%).

In terms of salary expectations, the research shows that, on average, students in Singapore expect a 4% higher annual salary for their first full-time job, from 50,388 SGD last year to 52,457 SGD this year. The gap in expectations between the genders remains at 13% with expected salaries of men at 56,978 SGD and women at 49,624 SGD.

39% of students use career fairs to engage with prospective employers

As career fairs in the local universities return post Covid-19, students report reduced use of other channels such as social media (2023: 50%, 2022: 56%), news media (2023: 35%, 2022: 40%) and employers’ career websites (2023: 32%, 2022: 39%) as the places they go to learn about their future employers.

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