Look Within

The grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side of the fence. If you can look around yourself, correctly perceive the opportunities that are
present here and the potentials for your professional and personal success in your own country, you may want to reconsider and align your career prospects with the exponential growth of Singapore’s economy
By Ananya Mukherjee

As an average Singaporean undergraduate student where would you like to see yourself five years hence? Your answer will probably be that you dream of an American sunrise in the Big Apple or a high-flying designation in the London Stock Exchange or likewise.

The familiarity of your response stops me from being surprised. Nine times out of ten, young dreams such as yours are big, and the backdrops of their perceived realisations are across the oceans. In this quest for greener pastures, you are not alone. An analysis of the Gen Y psychology further reveals that today’s youth look for jobs with an international perspective that not only fulfil the economic aspect of their needs but also provide them with a sense of mission.

However, I still have a question. Whilst it is not uncommon for graduates in developing economies to seek greener pastures in other countries, why
do Singapore graduates who have ample opportunities in their homeland express desires to explore their fortunes on foreign shores?

Of course, you may have your own logic such as exposure to other cultures, value-add experience, “perceived” freedom, “perceived” better working environment and culture, but beyond the oft-cited rationale that you can list, is there some link that drives such dreams, missing? Are you sure you know what Singapore can offer you in terms of professional and personal success?

Opportunities & Exposures Galore

Before you venture out, maybe it’s time to look within, and see what your own country has in store for you. Did you know Singapore is one of the
world’s fastest growing economies with a buoyant and positive GDP growth? In fact, Singapore has been awarded the most competitive country
in Asia. According to World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 Report, it ranks number one as for having the most open and liberal economy for international trade, number two as the economy with the best investment potential and ranks one in Asia and four in the world for having low levels of
corruption in the economy.

Furthermore, as per statistics by the Ministry of Manpower, for the whole of 2010, total employment in Singapore increased by 112,500 significantly
exceeding the gains of 37,600 in 2009. The services added 109,500 workers in 2010, positively up from the increase of 55,600 in 2009. In fact, it is such a strong and buoyant market that it has been the top most favourite destination for expatriate talent for the last decade.

So if job opportunities galore for residents and foreigners, isn’t it appropriate that you give your own country some serious consideration before applying for jobs overseas? You may argue that not all industries in Singapore offer that opportunity. Associate Professor Tan Hwee Hoon from the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at SMU shares an example. SMU has a student in Hong Kong doing Mergers & Acquisition work. His
consideration for not coming back to Singapore is that the market for Mergers & Acquisition is very small in Singapore and that he would not be able to put the skills and knowledge he has acquired in the last five years to good use.

However, this may be a one-odd case, but there is another side to the story and there may be a need to further consider the reality of the Singapore marketplace. According to a spokesperson from the Nanyang Business School, most of its graduates start their careers in Singapore as there are bountiful opportunities in the financial services sector, FMCG industries, insurance and risk business, tourism markets, technology industries and professional and shared services. “Many NBS graduates get multiple offers and have a happy problem of making the right choice,” the spokesperson says. Also the cosmopolitan working environment is one that encourages many to choose Singapore over others. “My colleagues come from all parts of the world and so do my friends. I don’t think there are many cities that nurture such an open and dynamic business environment, as well as different professional perspectives,” says Eileen Lee, senior manager, Brand Development, Singapore Tourism Board.

Singapore Needs You

Undoubtedly, the youth plays a vital role in nation building and without young talent, the economy cannot capitalize on future growth opportunities. The youth, full of innovative and vibrant ideas are a strong force of the nation. And your participation in the economic sustainability will chart the map for Singapore’s future. No wonder there’s an increasing thrust for the need of developing a more progressive generation of young Singaporeans.
However, other economies are our competitors. As human resource is mobile and people are becoming more global citizens rather than national
citizens, the challenge is why should someone born in one country remain as citizen of that country? Especially when one is talented, the international scene offers abundant opportunities. Under such pressures, it naturally becomes imperative for organisations to attract and retain young Singaporeans to contribute to the growth of its economy.

This is critical not just for the skills, which can be imported, but also for nationhood. “When young Singaporeans have a stake in Singapore and feel
responsible for Singapore’s outcomes, which is not just economical, but Singapore’s social fabric, passion, commitment and willingness to rise up
to challenges will follow,” says Helen Ng, deputy director, Corporate Affairs, CSIT.

Also, as a nation, we need to be able to take care of our own, in particular to ensure that our young people find sufficient opportunities in Singapore,
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, observes. Presumably, once you have a stronger
sense of belonging and ownership, you would see Singapore as not merely a place to make a living, but also a home and nation worth fighting for on the economic front.

Home is where the heart is...and more!

As the new-generation workforce, you are probably looking forward to relocating to a destination that offers you more than just a career. If you truly search for a lifestyle, nothing quite compares to your home country. Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy with an unemployment rate as low as 2.3% in 2010. Whilst other countries may offer higher salaries and shorter working hours, Singapore is low on income taxes. Also, bonuses can be substantial in good times and can compensate for the lower base salaries.

The quality of life, safe living environment, excellent health-care, plentiful job opportunities and a low tax system are some of the prime factors that attract foreign professionals and entrepreneurs to Singapore. Aren’t these tick boxes on top of your wish list too? If this is what you are looking for, why not look within your own backyard and see where the country ranks as a destination of choice?

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