People in Singapore less upbeat on opportunities: Poll

S'pore survey respondents cite tough job market, age, lack of financial resources as barriers

A poll commissioned by LinkedIn found that people in Singapore most want work-life balance, job stability and quality time with loved ones.
A poll commissioned by LinkedIn found that people in Singapore most want work-life balance, job stability and quality time with loved ones.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

People in Singapore are less optimistic than average about opportunities available to them, according to a new report.

Respondents said a difficult job market, age and a lack of financial resources were the top barriers to success, amid an uncertain economic outlook.

The poll, commissioned by professional network LinkedIn, gave Singapore a score of 95 and a ranking of 15.

A score of more than 100 indicates greater confidence, while one below 100 points to less confidence.

The index ranked 22 markets based on seven factors, including quality of life in terms of happiness, outlook on the economy over the next 12 months and confidence in achieving success.

Singapore was in the bottom half for six of the factors.

It did poorly in terms of levels of happiness and confidence in achieving success, coming in 18th for both categories. But it was ranked eighth for having a better quality of life compared with previous generations.

A similar survey in 2018 placed Singapore at sixth place out of nine Asia-Pacific economies examined. The study was expanded this time, and covered more than 30,000 respondents aged 18 to 65, including about 1,000 from Singapore, between September and October last year. Most of those polled here were working.

A key finding discussed the main barriers that people felt were hindering their success.

It found that 25 per cent of respondents here cited a difficult job market as the main gap, while 22 per cent pointed to age and 20 per cent to financial status.

Older workers were more likely to feel held back by their age, with 52 per cent of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and 31 per cent of Generation X respondents (born from 1965 to 1980) naming it as the top opportunity gap.

A difficult job market had also emerged as the top opportunity gap in the 2018 report, followed by insufficient financial resources and a lack of networks.

Age was a new option added this year, after feedback from respondents in the last survey.

Separate results released on Monday by recruitment firm Randstad showed that 41 per cent of people surveyed here blamed their age for the unfair way they were managed compared with their colleagues.

Dr Helen Ko, a senior lecturer in gerontology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, noted: "Ageism is still quite prevalent in Singapore and probably in many other countries as well."

She suggested, among other things, that businesses help to change mindsets about older workers by sharing research which has found that age-related declines in health do not generally adversely affect performance or productivity.

LinkedIn's managing director for Asia Pacific, Mr Olivier Legrand, said that with people of four generations working together, “it’s time for businesses to set aside hiring biases against age, and embrace the multigenerational workforce as an opportunity”.

Companies can hire for complementary skills among older and younger workers, and promote collaboration and mentorship between them, he added.

The LinkedIn study also found that the most sought-after opportunities among Singapore respondents were work-life balance, job stability and spending quality time with loved ones, the same as in 2018.

Respondents here said that working hard, being willing to embrace change and having the right connections were the most important factors for getting ahead in life. Each of these was cited as being important or very important by more than 80 per cent of the participants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'People here less upbeat on opportunities: Poll'. Subscribe