While Singapore has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Asia Pacific, new professionals are entering an employment market in a state of rapid change as Singaporean workplaces navigate rapid business transformation. Companies are increasingly embracing new digital technologies and automation tools, allowing them to focus more on strategic, innovative and customer-focused work.
This digitisation trend is reflected in the recent establishment of the Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) office late last month. Intended to help companies digitise and keep pace with changing technology, the DISG is expected to create an estimated 10,000 new tech-related jobs over the next three years, with digitisation as a whole expected to drive emerging job opportunities and growth in IT, communications, finance, insurance and professional services.
Here are 5 useful tips for fresh grads:
1. Equip yourself with in-demand technical skills
Employers are seeking commercial-savvy finance and accounting professionals who can demonstrate skills in areas like Microsoft suite, analytics, SAP, BI and ERP.
In the financial services sector, the top skills in demand include programming (Python, R, Tableau), private equity and hedge fund accounting, as well as fluency in Mandarin.
Within the IT industry, cyber-security, risk management and data science are the most sought-after roles. Highly valued qualifications include security certifications in CISM, CISA, CISSP or CRISC, postgraduate qualifications in artificial intelligence (AI) or robotics, and Scrum/Prince2. Python, R, Java and Python programming skills are also seeing hot demand.
The DISG will work with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) as well as industry and local education institutions to implement training that focuses on areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber-security, data science and network engineering. These trainings are intended to prepare the workforce for the estimated 10,000 new tech-related jobs that the DISG will help create in the private sector, as well as equip workers with a valuable set of tech-related skills that are increasingly in demand.
2. Soft skills matter
Alongside technical knowledge, emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly valued. Soft skills such as communication and negotiation, teamwork, creative problem solving and adaptability are now considered critical to career success, due to their role in influencing organisational stakeholders and making data-driven, strategic decisions.
To bolster their soft skills, internships, volunteering, temporary/part-time work, and adopting a ‘constant learning’ mindset can all help improve their employability in a thriving but highly competitive job market.
3. Prioritise professional development
The government’s SkillsFuture initiative is a great way for starters who want to further enhance their skills in the in-demand areas. The initiative provides $500 in starting credit to all Singaporeans aged 25 for them to spend on workplace education and training courses.
The initiative’s goal is to help develop a culture that supports lifelong learning. As technology is evolving faster than ever before, it’s necessary for professionals to upskill regularly throughout their careers. The ‘Emerging Skills’ areas of the program include cyber-security, data analytics, digital media and tech-enabled services.
4. Job for life is obsolete
While job-hopping has been traditionally frowned upon, the broad and diverse skills that come with multiple jobs can help accelerate career advancement.
Professionals who are still early in their career find a comfortable balance for themselves, as taking time to ‘grow into a role’ shows a loyalty that employers may reward with promotions and pay increases later on. Generally, however, young Singapore professionals should not feel shy about seeking new opportunities if they feel they are lacking compensation or learning and career progression prospects in their current workplace.
5. Consider temporary jobs
Around 10% of the Singaporean labour force are freelancers. Graduates should therefore also consider entering the market via temporary or project work. Working on an interim basis can help people learn new skills and experience, and build their professional network. Through these employment opportunities, they can also determine what type of company they’d like to work for over the long term.
This positive turnaround is also having a direct impact on the career paths of temporary professionals as top performers are in turn being offered permanent positions by their employer if and when there’s an available opportunity.