IT grads expect $4,500 monthly pay, 20% above engineering peers: Survey

The salary expectations of IT graduates are significantly higher due to "increased demand for a very low supply of technical and digital talent in Singapore", the report by employer branding firm Universum said.
The salary expectations of IT graduates are significantly higher due to "increased demand for a very low supply of technical and digital talent in Singapore", the report by employer branding firm Universum said.PHOTO: ST FILE

Salary expectations among Singaporean students have been rising steadily in recent years, with IT graduates expecting about $4,500 per month, a new survey has found.

This is a notch higher compared with the salary expectations of business and engineering students, echoing an "increased demand for a very low supply of technical and digital talent in Singapore", according to a survey released on Thursday by employer branding firm Universum.

On average, IT graduates expected an annual salary of $53,721. This works out to about $4,500 per month, which is about 20 per cent higher than the expected salary among business and engineering students.

Business/commerce students expected an annual salary of $44,459, while engineering/natural sciences students expected an annual salary of $44,661.

Mr Mike Parsons, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Universum, said: "The demand for digital and IT talent in Singapore continues to increase. Not only does the survey highlight the pressure this is putting on salaries, but this trend is also pushing employers, especially non-traditional employers of digital talent, to be more strategic and segmented with what they offer."

The annual survey, titled Universum's Top 100 Ideal Employers, polled more than 10,000 students from Singapore's universities this year. Google once again topped the list as the most ideal employer.

The salary expectations among IT graduates may not be realistic for many, but they are not surprising, said experts.

Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, noted that most companies are paying fresh IT graduates between $3,200 and $3,800 a month.

"While there are roles like data scientist that pay approximately $4,500 per month, they are not easily acquirable for fresh graduates and would often require niche skill sets such as machine learning and a master's degree," she added.

The median monthly salary here for fresh IT graduates in 2017 was $3,500, based on a graduate employment survey released in February this year.

However, today's job market emphasises skills-based compensation, hence "such salary expectations for hot skills like IT, cyber security and design thinking are to be expected", said Ms Low Peck Kem, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute.

"It is as realistic as how much companies are willing to pay a premium to get the right talent for their organisations."

Similarly, Mr Mayank Parekh, chief executive of the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, said the higher salary expectation "boils down to consistently higher demand for IT graduates over the years as more companies digitise their operations".

 
 

"The premium could also reflect hard-to-find skills within the IT industry such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, data science and user experience design," he said.

Similar to past years' surveys, students polled chose "work/life balance" and "to be secure or stable in my job" as their No. 1 and No. 2 career goals, respectively.

When asked about the communication channels they use to research on their future employers, both business/commerce and IT students indicated social media as the most important source of information for them.

Engineering and natural sciences students, however, said that they learnt most about their employers through career fairs.

• Additional reporting by Rosalind Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'IT grads expect $4,500 monthly pay, 20% above engineering peers: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe