Singapore’s the most popular location for job seekers in Asia but locals aren’t keen on working abroad themselves: Report

While Singapore is a top destination among Asian markets for job seekers around the world, locals are generally not keen on relocating overseas for work.
The Straits Times

Nearly one in four job seekers in Asia would choose Singapore as their desired destination for work, making the island country more popular than any other major market, a study revealed.

Employment solutions provider RGF International Recruitment released its Talent in Asia report on Monday (July 22) which uncovered that 24 per cent of talent in the region would prefer working in Singapore as compared with locations such as China, Europe and North America.

The study involved a “comprehensive analysis” of over 3,500 responses from employers and candidates across 11 Asian and markets to examine industry and country hiring trends.

The markets surveyed include:

  • Singapore
  • Greater China (mainland china, Hong Kong and Taiwan)
  • India
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • The Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Singapore was observed to be the most popular choice for Indonesians, where 38 per cent of job seekers indicated that they would want to relocated and work there. This was followed by those from Thailand (35 per cent) and Malaysia (33 per cent), as well as other markets not within South-east Asia such as Japan (30 per cent), India (29 per cent) and mainland China (15 per cent).

However, not all countries and territories in Asia found Singapore to be their most popular destination for employment opportunities as 43 per cent of job seekers in Taiwan and 26 per cent of those in Hong Kong, chose mainland China as their preferred work location.

In Singapore itself, around one in five (21 per cent) of employment candidates chose to work in mainland China as well.

RGF International Recruitment

“Talent love to move around – for new experiences, to gain new skills, or perhaps to simply get away from less-than-desirable employment conditions in their home countries,” RGF said.

The study found that Singaporeans are generally not keen on moving overseas despite the push by employers to have their Singaporean talent gain international experience.

Singapore workers prioritise “fair compensation” when switching jobs

The report showed that Singapore’s fast-growing population and advancements in med-tech have propelled the healthcare and life sciences industries to become the most popular among employment hopefuls, who are further drawn by competitive salaries and “strong” career prospects in these sectors.

Other popular industries where Singaporeans talent have expressed interest in include the technology, Internet and telecommunications, consumer and retail, financial services and industrial sectors.

As Singaporeans “have always valued fair and competitive compensation”, RGF observed that 83 per cent of local talent across all industries and job levels expect a salary increase when switching jobs, and the average expected pay raise is 17 per cent.

The second-most common deciding factor for new employment opportunities was “top calibre colleagues”, which according to RGF was “not surprising” as the average Singaporean spends nearly 45 paid hours at work per week.

Prospects for career advancement (10.8 per cent) and work-life balance (9.8 per cent) were also found to be major factors that influence Singaporean job seekers’ evaluation of employment opportunities.

RGF International Recruitment

On the employers’ side, none indicated a pessimistic outlook for business growth in the coming 12 months, with slightly more than half (53 per cent) surveyed saying that they were optimistic across industries.

Hiring challenges still present

However, hiring talent remains problematic for the Singapore market as 84 per cent of employers said talent shortage is the top concern for the future.

Other challenges include company culture mismatch (12.4 per cent) and low hiring budgets (10 per cent).

RGF also noted that although local employers primarily value industry expertise, they are “equally as concerned” about soft skills such as accountability and adaptability.

RGF International Recruitment

James Miles, managing director of RGF Executive Search Singapore, said: “Singapore remains a top location for talent – both local and international – but job seekers must understand how to apply their skills locally in order to obtain the careers they desire.”

To counter the problem, the company advised local employers to boost internal recruitment teams by focusing on key employment priorities.

Despite not being a “top solution”, it said that Singapore has the highest percentage of employers among Asian markets, who are keen to explore artificial intelligence (AI) for recruitment.

RGF said that even though hiring budgets to strengthen traditional recruitment avenues may be applicable in the short-term, AI could potentially have a “stronger effect” in bridging the talent gap in the long run.

RGF International Recruitment

“On the company side, human resources teams will have to work cross-functionally to ensure the current workforce and talent pipeline is capable of meeting the future needs of the business,” Miles said.

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