As one of the world’s biggest financial centres with an advanced economy based on exports, Singapore offers job opportunities across a range of sectors
With a population of around 5.5 million, Singapore is a small country that punches above its weight economically – making it a popular destination for graduates.
It’s a high-tech, clean and generally safe place to work, with a high standard of living and welcoming multicultural society.
Singapore has a successful free-market economy and regularly scores well on lists of the least corrupt nations in the world. The country has achieved strong growth since the global downturn in 2009.
Unemployment is low (2% in 2014), as are taxes on businesses and individuals. Per capita income is the third highest in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In addition to financial services, the CIA World Factbook lists some of Singapore’s main industries as:
- life sciences;
- processed food and beverages;
- ship repairs.
Singapore’s port is one of the busiest in the world, with exports vital to the economy, and it’s also a transport hub for southeast Asia.
While the government has made some moves to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign labour, particularly in unskilled roles, Singapore remains an open and diverse society that attracts many international workers at graduate level.
A number of websites are available to help you find a graduate job in Singapore. The government-maintained Contact Singapore as its own jobs board as well as a substantial A-Z of other sites that post vacancies. Among those listed are:
Other websites you may find useful include:
Teaching in Singapore
English is the official language of education in Singapore, so if you’re a native or proficient speaker you’ll be able to teach in the country. To work in public schools you’ll need to be approved by the Ministry of Education Singapore, while the large expat community means there are also opportunities in foreign schools based in the country.
You’ll usually need a Bachelors degree and a teaching qualification to be considered. Salaries vary by experience and qualifications, but if you obtain a job offer from the Ministry of Education you’ll typically receive a contract for one to three years, with relocation allowance and air fare included.
The school year begins in January, with a month-long holiday in June. Teachers are generally hired to start training in July.
Internships and work experience in Singapore
University students and recent graduates aged between 18 and 25 are allowed to work in the country for up to six months on a holiday visa under The Ministry of Manpower’s Singapore Work Holiday Programme.
Many general jobs websites list internships, and it’s also worth checking sites suchInternSG.
In addition, AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) provides students with training and internship opportunities at for-profit and non-profit organisations.
Volunteering in Singapore
For volunteering opportunities in Singapore, a good starting point is the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to promote charitable giving and volunteering in the country.
You could also visit SGCares, which offers a variety of volunteer openings in Singapore through many different partner organisations. It’s also worth searching general job-hunting and gap-year websites.
There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Most Singaporeans will speak more than one of these. If you are a native or proficient English speaker, you’ll have no trouble communicating, as it’s the official language of business and education.
Singaporean visas and immigration
To work in Singapore in a professional, managerial or executive position you’ll require an Employment Pass. In order to qualify you will need to have a job offer for a role paying at least 3,300 Singaporean dollars a month.
The application is then made on your behalf by your employer. This pass will last two years before it has to be renewed. It will also need renewing if you change employer.
Other types of pass that are available include the:
- EntrePass for foreign entrepreneurs who want to set up a business in Singapore;
- Work Permits for semi-skilled workers from approved source countries;
- S Pass for mid-level workers such as technicians;
- Personalised Employment Pass for very high earners.
For more information about eligibility criteria and passes for family members, visit the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
How to explain your UK qualifications to employers
Qualifications gained in the UK are widely recognised and education in Singapore closely resembles the British system, so explaining your degree should not be a problem.
In addition, the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore’s workforce means that employers are used to dealing with applicants with qualifications from other countries. However, you should always check with the employer before applying for a job.
To find out more about the recognition of qualifications, see ENIC-NARIC.
Salaries in Singapore are generally very competitive and bonuses are often available at the end of the year. Personal taxes are low, though be aware that living expenses can be high.
Most companies in Singapore operate on a 44-hour week, many businesses work Monday to Friday with a half day on Saturday, although a five-day week is increasingly popular. Ongoing training and career development are widely encouraged.
Employees receive seven to 14 days holiday, depending on length of service and seniority, while there are also 11 public holidays and eight major festivals.
For more information, visit the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website.