Graduates and students are highly confident of their future career prospects, demonstrating optimism in the Government, their management of the pandemic and its subsequent recovery periods. This is one of the main findings in the BrightSparks Scholarship and Education Survey 2020 by CareerBuilder Singapore.
Other key findings include a ‘pandemic shift’ where COVID-19 strongly influenced students’ selection of majors, and by extension, their future career choices. Safety, security, and stability are key to students and graduates looking for career opportunities. Careers in Healthcare and Government sectors were the most desired. Salary expectations amongst Junior Colleges (JC), Polytechnic and International Baccalaureate (IB) students have also declined overall. Careers in the airline industry did not make the top 10 careers in 2020 for JC/IB students and dropped in preference by Polytechnic students.
A total of 3,260 JC, Polytechnic, and IB students as well as 749 mid-term undergraduates from universities around Singapore participated in this survey.
Almost all the JC, IB, and Polytechnic students surveyed are considering further education, which means they will only start looking for a job four-to-five years later. Their ideal job attributes include Career Growth and Opportunities, Job Scope and Job Security. This demonstrates the confidence they have that the economy will recover by the time they graduate; and they are being pragmatic about their career selections.
In particular, undergraduates who will start a job within the next one to two years expect higher starting salaries of SGD 3,501 – 4,000, with nearly 51 percent looking for a role with the Government, statutory board or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). These imply confidence that the job market will experience a quick recovery and growth.
There is a continuing trend towards safety, security and stability that has been accelerated by the pandemic, reflecting a ‘pandemic shift’ in the 2020 Survey results.
JC/IB Students are considering working in Healthcare and Government or Public Service sectors (54 percent in 2020 vs. 50 percent in 2019) reflecting preference for a stable industry and career.
Polytechnic students are looking at growth sectors with good long-term stability or high potential areas with 62 percent selecting software, healthcare and engineering sectors. This is a difference from the 2019 survey with the Airline/Travel and Government sectors being replaced in rankings.
Starting salary expectations of polytechnic students were also lower. In 2019, the majority of the respondents chose SGD 3,001 to 3,500 as their starting salary while in 2020, the majority opted for lower, at SGD 2,501 to 3,000. This may be due to the current economic landscape, which may be steering polytechnic students towards balancing securing employment opportunities and financial aspirations.
Polytechnic students listed job security as more important (95 percent in 2020 vs. 92 percent in 2019) in the survey with the top two attributes most important to them being job security and career growth and opportunities.
Vinay Dua, Managing Director of CareerBuilder Singapore, shared “2020 has reinforced the need for stable careers amidst all the uncertainty. We have seen this preference for job security accelerate in 2020. As such, healthcare and government roles are coveted more than ever, with students eager and excited to join these sectors. It is especially encouraging that healthcare workers and their contributions are acknowledged by our youth, and might even go beyond the pandemic, into supporting medical research and the ageing population.”
For undergraduates, career opportunities with the scholarship provider (93 percent in 2020 vs. 90 percent in 2019) and job security (87 percent in 2020 vs. 73 percent in 2019) upon graduation were the top two considerations when applying for a scholarship. These two factors continued to grow in importance in 2020.
Across the board, students stated job security upon graduation as an important factor when selecting scholarships. The importance of Job security and Career opportunities with scholarship providers increased in tandem, year-on-year.
The BrightSparks Scholarship & Education Survey has run for 13 years and reflects the choices JC/IB/Polytechnic graduates make in relation to their majors in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and indirectly their future careers.
By understanding the needs and aspirations of these young minds, scholarship providers will be better able to offer attractive scholarship packages that can attract budding talent by understanding their attributes, aspirations, factors and needs, as well as the most effective channels to communicate information to them.
Through the 2020 survey, we observe:
It is important for education providers, the public sector, as well as Singapore-based MNCs and SMEs to know and understand such findings in order to plan strategy, make long-term resourcing decisions and prepare for a future talent pipeline.
“For 13 years, the BrightSparks Scholarship & Education Survey by CareerBuilder continues to serve education providers, the public and private sectors by partnering with them to manage strategy, resourcing and talent management.” Vinay explained. “We do so through the provision of information about the career choices and preferences of young Singapore talent as they build their skills and competencies and navigate their way towards becoming careerready.”
Methodology and approach
A total of 4,009 participated in the survey this year. This is an increase of 25 percent more respondents (794 more respondents) than 2019. The 2020 survey was conducted from April to August 2020. The survey was conducted online through questionnaires. For more information about BrightSparks and CareerBuilder Singapore, please visit www.brightsparks.com.sg or www.careerbuilder.com.sg .