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Singapore fresh grads are more interested in tech jobs and startups in 2020

For local students and university graduates in Singapore, careers in tech have become more desirable than ever in 2020, according to an annual national graduate careers survey by GTI Media Singapore.

In addition, graduates now show increased interest in launching startups, with more than 30% of respondents saying they were keen on founding their own businesses either during their studies or right after graduation.

GTI Media Singapore surveyed more than 14,000 students and fresh graduates from local universities for our annual Singapore Graduate Barometer survey, which ran from June 2019 to February 2020. Respondents were asked to name the employers they intended to apply for upon graduation.

Results show that tech firms in Singapore are continuing to enjoy significant gains in popularity among fresh graduates. In a survey-derived list of the 100 most popular employers, tech firms in general rose in rank this year from 2019 – a sign of a continuing trend of local graduates looking to start their careers in tech, which began manifesting in 2018.

Microsoft, which was ranked no. 1 in 2019, maintained its position as the employer local students most want to work for after graduation. Tech firms with operations in Singapore such as Amazon, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Grab, Micron, Samsung, and Shopee rose in popularity as well, along with finance firms DBS Bank and Visa, which have been pushing aggressively to fill fintech roles.

“We believe the upheaval from the Covid-19 pandemic this year set many students toward thinking of tech careers as a more stable pathway,” said Isaac Hee, managing director at GTI Media Singapore. “The data from our survey shows that firms offering tech careers have universal appeal among students across all disciplines of study, even those who do not come from STEM-related majors.”

The top 10 tech firms that Singaporean graduates would like to apply to for their first job are:

  1. Microsoft

  2. Amazon

  3. Micron

  4. Accenture

  5. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

  6. Intel

  7. Shopee

  8. Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA)

  9. Grab

  10. IBM

In addition, when asked if they were considering founding startups either before or after graduating, 32% of those surveyed said yes – up from 27% in 2019 and 26% in 2018.

“With all the news out there about companies cutting back on hiring or laying off staff this year, perhaps graduates now feel they have less to lose by founding a startup, even despite the risks involved,” Hee said. “The opportunity cost of venturing out on your own may not seem that high anymore, all things considered.”

Despite investors being more cautious, appetite for funding tech ventures “has been relatively stable in 2020,” he said. This is particularly true given how the lives of consumers are increasingly moving online now. “No doubt, graduates are taking notice of that as well during these interesting times,” the managing director added.

When asked to state the factors that most influenced their selection of employers, the graduates stated their top five priorities as (in descending order):

  1. Good career prospects: 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: Visible recognition for work done and knowing that their efforts have an impact

  5. Equal opportunities and diversity: Workplaces that expressly offer an equal playing field to all regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability, social background, etc.

In addition, close to 79% of graduates stated that moral and ethical considerations play an important role in their choice of employer, indicating that personal values and principles matter strongly to them when making early career decisions despite how tough prospects may seem this year.

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