The job market in Singapore

Working in Singapore
Updated 2022-06-01 11:21

Singapore has long been a popular destination for expats. With a booming economy, a wealth of industries, and high standards of living, it's no surprise that the tiny nation continues to draw expats from around the world. However, the country wasn't been left unscathed by the global economic slowdown.

Expat employees in Singapore

Singapore's economy is as advanced as it's diversified. Whether you're seeking opportunities in financial services, oil & gas, consulting, or the hospitality sector, it seems that the tiny island nation has something to offer. Currently, more than a third of the population is of foreign origin, which is a testament to the wealth of opportunities present in the country.

Interestingly, in terms of skills, Singapore offers opportunities at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, there's a high demand for low-skilled workers, who often come from nearby South-East Asian countries, while on the other hand, highly-skilled bankers, consultants, and engineers find it easy to peddle their talent to the highest bidders. However, no analysis of the Singaporean market would be complete without mentioning the rising feeling of uneasiness that Singaporeans feel towards an ever-growing expatriate population.

By all measures, Singapore is still a welcoming nation and has displayed none of the extreme forms of anti-foreigner sentiment witnessed in the United States or Europe, but the situation has evolved negatively over recent years and nationalistic sentiments have increased. Ask any taxi driver in Singapore where he's from, and very often, you'll hear “I am a real Singaporean”, followed by a smile and a warm welcome.

Employment in Singapore

The latest figures published by the Ministry of Manpower indicate that the Singaporean job market is recovering well from the pandemic. Both resident and non-resident employment rose, with the latter having an increase for the first time in two years (probably thanks to the relaxing of borders).

Retrenchments in 2021 were lower compared to 2020. The fastest-growing jobs in Singapore are dominated by tech, which is not surprising. Furthermore, an aging population and the growth of medical tourism are expected to drive more demand for the country's healthcare industry. Robotics engineer, clinical specialist, data scientist, and DevOps engineer are just some of the roles which will be in high demand in the near future.

Salary and tax in Singapore

In terms of salaries, Singaporean companies offer internationally competitive rates in a low-tax environment. The average salary is S$5,783 per month as of January 2022. The median gross monthly income for full-time employed Singaporean residents is S$4,563.

In terms of salary growth, in response to inflation, Singaporean employees can expect to see a 3.5% increase in 2022.

Work ethics and regulations in Singapore

The working culture in Singapore can be somewhat grueling, especially in competitive sectors such as banking. However, the Ministry of Manpower sets clear guidelines through the Employment Act. The act is Singapore's main labor law and sets out the terms and conditions for employees. Foreign employees holding a work pass are covered under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, in which the responsibilities of employers are outlined.

It's important to consult the conditions set out by the Ministry of Manpower to better understand what the legal provisions are for different types of jobs. The regulation covers hours of work, the breaks to which staff is entitled, overtime pay, as well as the number of rest days. The working conditions for foreign workers are closely monitored, and it's essential for newcomers to know and respect the regulations in place.

Singapore is an exciting, cosmopolitan location in which to work. Even though the recent pandemic has slowed things down, opportunities still abound in the country, especially for the highly skilled.

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