With one of the most stable economies in the world, high salaries and opportunities in variety of sectors it's not hard to see why Singapore is a top work abroad destination
Don't be fooled by its size, economically speaking Singapore packs a punch. One of the four 'Asian Tiger' economies, along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, it's renowned for its rapid economic growth in the second half of the twentieth century.
Employers in Singapore are eager to acquire foreign talent and as such salaries can be extremely lucrative as recruiters try to entice international workers. While the country may be crowded it is known for its safety and efficiency. Combine these things with a high standard of living and a welcoming multicultural society and it's obvious why Singapore is so popular with job-seeking graduates.
Known as the gateway to Asia, in your free time you'll be able to travel by air or sea to surrounding countries and explore locations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.
Jobs in Singapore
Singapore has a successful free-market economy and regularly scores well on lists of the least corrupt nations in the world. Unemployment is low at 2.2%. The country's port is one of the busiest in the world, with exports vital to the economy.
The Singaporean workforce is extremely multicultural and is made up of Chinese, Malay and Indian workers, as well as expatriates from all over the world.
In fact, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2018, Singapore ranks number one for the whole expat experience. The report finds that expats are drawn to work in the country thanks to its strong and stable economy, while almost half moved to Singapore to progress their careers, while 38% wanted to improve their earnings.
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.
International companies with operations in Singapore include:
- BNP Paribas
- Deutsche Bank
- InterContinental Hotels Group
- Johnson & Johnson
- Proctor & Gamble
Popular graduate jobs
- financial services
- processed food and beverages
- ship repair
- telecommunications equipment
According to the Manpower Group's 2018 Talent Shortage Survey, 56% of Singaporean employers say they struggle to fill open jobs. One of the main drivers of this talent shortage is a lack of relevant skills and experience.
The report states that hard to fill jobs in Singapore include:
- certified accountants
- customer service professionals
- cyber security experts
- engineers (chemical, electrical, civil, mechanical)
- financial analysts
- project managers
- sales representatives
In demand jobs in the country include all of the above, as well as data scientists, product managers, user experience designers, HR professionals and marketing professionals.
How to get a job in Singapore
Before applying for jobs in Singapore make sure that you research the job sector that you hope to work in.
You don't need to be in the country to apply for jobs - there are plenty of websites that enable you to search for work and apply online. For example, the government-maintained Contact Singapore has its own jobs board as well as a substantial A-Z of other sites that post vacancies. Other useful jobsites include:
- [email protected]
- GradConnection Singapore
However, check company websites as application methods can vary from submitting a CV and cover letter, to completing an online application form.
Registering with recruitment agencies is another good way of uncovering vacancies in Singapore.
Initial interviews may be conducted via phone or video if you're not in the country, but bear in mind that large multinational companies may require you to attend an assessment centre.
English is the main language of business so all applications and interviews will be conducted in English.
You need to secure work in order to get a work permit.
The country is a tourism hotspot, so you may be able to find casual work in hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants as a temporary measure.
If you're aged between 18 and 25, the Singapore Work Holiday Programme allows university students and recent graduates from eight countries, (including the UK), to work in the country for up to six months on a holiday visa.
There are also plenty of volunteering projects to get involved in, from working with children and the elderly to tackling community issues. You can also work on animal conservation, environmental, health, social care, sports or education projects.
For volunteering opportunities in Singapore, see:
- Giving SG
- National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)
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. You'll usually need a Bachelors degree and a teaching qualification to be considered. The National Institute of Education - Singapore is the only teacher training centre in the country.
Despite English being widely spoken there is a demand for TEFL teachers, although jobs aren't as wide-spread as in other Asian countries. To teach English as a foreign language you'll usually need a TEFL qualification and some previous teaching experience. Some companies may also require you to have a Bachelors degree.
The school year begins in January, with a month-long holiday in June. Teachers are generally hired to start training in July.
It's also possible to teach English in Singapore with the British Council.
Competition for internships and work experience opportunities is fierce. Be proactive and arrange placements directly with companies. Apply speculatively as many opportunities aren't advertised. You should also keep checking the websites of the organisations you're interested in for any intern vacancies that occur.
InternSG is a useful resource.
You could also complete an internship as part of the Singapore Work Holiday Programme.
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.
All foreigners who want to work in Singapore must have a valid pass or work visa.
There are a variety of passes, which one you need will depend on your circumstances and level of skill. Types of pass include:
- Employment Pass - for foreign professionals, managers and executives. You’ll need to earn at least 3,600 Singaporean dollars (£2,041) a month and have acceptable qualifications.
- EntrePass - for foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start a business in the country.
- Personalised Employment Pass - for high earners.
- Work Permit for Foreign Worker - for semi-skilled international workers. For example, those in the construction or manufacturing industries.
- Work Permit for Foreign Domestic Workers
- Work Permit for a Performing Artiste
- S Pass - for mid-level skilled workers
- Training Employment Pass - for foreign professionals undergoing practical training
- Miscellaneous Work Pass - for those taking on a short term work assignment of up to 60 days.
For more information about passes, eligibility criteria and that of family members, visit the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
If you're not from the UK, the Singaporean embassy in your home country for information about work passes, visas and permits.
There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Most Singaporeans 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.
If English is not your native language you may have to prove your proficiency in the language from some jobs.
How to explain your 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.
What it's like to work in Singapore
The majority of businesses operate between the hours of 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday with half a day on Saturday, although a five-day week is increasingly popular.
Employees receive seven to 14 days holiday, depending on length of service and seniority, while there are also the following public holidays:
- New Year's Day
- Chinese New Year (two days)
- Good Friday
- Labour Day
- Vesak Day
- Hari Raya Puasa
- National Day
- Hari Raya Haji
- Christmas Day.
Bear in mind that while salaries are competitive the cost of living in Singapore is high when compared to other Asian countries.
For more information on working conditions, visit the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM) - Employment practices.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in Singapore.