Forum: Are S'poreans pricing themselves out of employment market?

I am concerned by the findings from a survey conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (British firms cite 3 major obstacles to hiring PRs, Singaporeans, Nov 12).

It found that the top three reasons preventing British organisations from hiring Singaporeans and permanent residents are lack of technical skills, (high) salary expectations and lack of advanced soft skills.

While Singapore may be well known for its high standard of living, wage cost is generally understood to be higher for professionals, holding everything equal, from Britain than from Singapore.

According to the British Office for National Statistics, the average salary of a worker in Britain last year was £36,611. This is equivalent to about $65,000.

In contrast, an average worker's salary in Singapore, according to PayScale, is $53,000.

In most circumstances, if a Singapore-based British business hires an employee from back home to work in Singapore, in addition to paying the general expected wages based on British standards, the hirer has to factor in travelling and accommodation expenses, along with allowances related to overseas postings.

Hiring local employees in Singapore usually does not involve such cost elements.

If salary expectations of Singapore workers are indeed one of the major obstacles, I wonder if we are pricing ourselves out of the market.

The definition of "advanced soft skills" is not stated. I would presume these would include strategic thinking, interpersonal skills, cultural relationship building and diplomacy skills, analysis and negotiation skills, as well as emotional intelligence.

Being a professional in the technology and training industry, I agree that some of these skills may indeed be lacking in our local workforce.

While a survey based on a sample size of 76 organisations may not be a strong reading, from the wage and soft skills perspectives, it may do us good to consider whether we are still clinging on to historical success.

Tan Kar Quan

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