Singapore is 8th most attractive country to relocate to for work: Survey

Singapore jumped to eighth place, from 24th in 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore is the eighth most attractive country to relocate to for work - the first time it has broken into the top 10 in a global study that started in 2014.

But the report also noted on Wednesday (March 17) that fewer Singaporeans desire to work abroad.

The study, which polled around 208,800 respondents across 190 countries, found that the pandemic has changed people's views on the top work destinations as virus containment measures become a priority.

Singapore jumped to eighth place, from 24th in 2014. Canada topped the list, followed by the United States, Australia, Germany and Britain.

"When it comes to employee relocation, several Asia-Pacific countries, such as Singapore and New Zealand, have become the preferred choices of talent in 2020," said the report compiled by online employment marketplace Seek Asia, The Network and Boston Consulting Group.

"This is likely due to the countries' management of Covid-19, which have largely registered low mortality rates and kept infection cases in check."

Since the fourth quarter of last year, there has been an average growth of 28 per cent in job openings across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam compared with the second quarter of last year, according to JobStreet, of which Seek Asia is the parent company.

Besides good pandemic management, Singapore's competitiveness is also a selling point for talent, the report said.

"Other than robust international trade and investment, Singapore's digital infrastructure, national stability and culture of innovation also inspire confidence," it added.

The report noted that professionals, managers, executives and technicians from China, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, for instance, are keen to come to Singapore to work as the standard of living here is comparable with their home countries.

OCBC Bank head of treasury research and strategy Selena Ling said: "Singapore has had good containment of coronavirus cases, excellent healthcare facilities and free vaccination.

"But a downside could be the perceived tightening of foreign manpower restrictions."

Seek Asia chief executive Peter Bithos said the pandemic has also created a new kind of "virtual mobility", where staff can work remotely from a different country.

Around 57 per cent of respondents said they were willing to work remotely for an employer that does not have a physical presence in their home country.

"For hirers who are struggling to fill job openings, the time is ripe to warm up to the option of offering virtual employment, so as to attract competent and suitable talent," said Mr Bithos.

This trend also goes in tandem with a sharp decline in the willingness of job seekers to physically work abroad.

This is because of restrictions and uncertainty due to the pandemic and the emergence of virtual work where it becomes less necessary to move overseas to find jobs, the report said.

The emergence of nationalistic politics and tighter immigration regulations in key economies such as Britain and the US are also factors, it added.

Only 44 per cent of Singaporean respondents now want to work abroad, compared with 79 per cent in 2014.

Ms Ling said: "This may not be a long-term trend. It depends on when borders reopen and when vaccination passports gain traction. There are also policies encouraging local firms and workers to internationalise and gain international exposure."

Australia still remains the preferred work destination for Singaporeans, followed by China, Taiwan and New Zealand, the report found.

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