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More fresh graduates in Singapore want to work in tech, but not at startups: survey

Tech in Asia - 2019


Careers in tech are more desirable than ever this year among university students and graduates in Singapore, according to an annual national graduate careers survey by GTI Media Singapore.

However, the survey also showed that graduates are still skeptical about the prospects of careers with startups.


More than 13,800 students and fresh graduates from local universities participated in the annual Singapore Graduate Barometer survey, which ran from April 2018 to February 2019. The respondents were asked to name the employers they intend to apply to upon graduation.


The results showed that tech firms in Singapore enjoy significant gains in popularity among fresh graduates this year. On the list of 100 most popular employers, tech firms in general rose in rank compared to 2018, indicating an increasing number of local graduates expressly looking to start a career in tech.


Microsoft, which ranked fifth in 2018, rose to the top this year, unseating previous incumbent accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.


“The good news for tech recruiters is that local graduates now increasingly see tech as the next big frontier when it comes to their early careers,” said Isaac Hee, managing director at GTI Media Singapore. “The data from this year’s survey shows that careers with tech firms now have universal appeal to students across all disciplines of study, even to those who do not come from STEM-related majors.”


The top 10 tech firms Singaporean fresh graduates picked for their first job are:


1. Microsoft

2. Amazon

3. Accenture

4. Garena

5. Micron

6. Grab

7. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

8. Ubisoft

9. Razer

10. Intel


Startups’ appeal


However, when asked if they intend to either start or join a startup after graduating, only 27% of the students said yes, a slight increase from last year’s 26%. Still, the idea didn’t seem to be that appealing to the majority, with 32% saying they wouldn’t build or join a startup and 41% indicating they were unsure.


“What we’re seeing is that local graduates are still fairly risk-averse when thinking about their early careers,” Hee explained. “We also asked respondents to rank a list of factors that influence their choice of employer by order of personal importance. The data shows that on average, graduates ranked job security as a significantly more important factor in their choice than working for an employer that espouses innovation.”


Hee emphasized: “So, the takeaway for recruiters at smaller tech firms or startups in Singapore is to get the messaging right. Local graduates are still very pragmatic and first want the assurance of secure, stable employment before they’ll buy into any pitches of what they’d be innovating or disrupting on the job.”


According to the survey, the top five key factors that influence students’ selection of employers are:


1. Good career prospects: Seeing the promise of promotions and professional growth opportunities

2. Positive employer leadership: Knowing that they would be working under effective, principled leaders

3. Personal development opportunities: Being able to grow their personal skill sets beyond the realm of work (e.g., soft skills, personal interests, etc.)

4. Being appreciated at work: Having visible recognition for work done and knowing that their efforts have an impact

5. Friendly colleagues: Working in a positive, collaborative environment that’s free from workplace politics


In addition, close to 76% of graduates stated that moral and ethical considerations play an important role in their choice of employer. The response indicated that fresh graduates tend to lean heavily towards personal values and principles when making early career decisions.


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