…so Singaporean graduates can’t get a job?

The article below is sent to us by a Japanese reader who wishes to remain anonymous. 

See below for a Japanese transcript. 日本語訳については、以下を参照してください。


Last week, I heard an interesting rumor that Japanese run NHK is making a documentary about “How graduates in Singapore CANNOT find jobs”! It seems like some people already got interviewed about this topic.

I’m not sure how accurate that is. The fact is, success rates of graduates from the NUS getting a job see an employment rate of between 80%-100% (most ranging the upper percentiles) within 6 months of their final exam.

From my observations, Singaporeans have many opportunities in the employment market. The jobs here are diverse, interesting and offer a wide variety of wage packages. They cater to a wide variety of skills, abilities and interests.

In fact, I spoke with many business owners and they tell me the greatest productivity killer in Singapore is attributed to employees job-hopping frequently.

Many get better pay and better position every time they switch jobs.

It is difficult to appreciate how good it is in Singapore without some comparison. I can only compare the employment market here with Japan.

In Japan, it is a big deal if we cannot find a job as a fresh graduate. In 2012, 54 graduates committed suicide because they failed to find a job.

Being a fresh graduate means we are the most desired person in Japanese job market, for all the wrong reasons. Because they are fresh and easily get brain washed. Just like some man wants to get married to virgins, Japanese companies prefer fresh graduates and train them from scratch.

A lot of “good companies” only open its permanent employment door to fresh graduates. Therefore, most of Japanese university students put their maximum effort in finding a job before graduation. As soon as we reach our 3rd year in the university, we start giving up on hair coloring and trendy cloths.  Then dye our hair black and wear plain suits called the “Recruit Suit” and start applying for jobs. Let me share with you a viral video about this job finding craze, it will give you an idea what it is like.

Even though we put in so much effort, only about 60% of us could find permanent employment jobs. Then what happen to the rest? Unfortunately, majority of us stay in non-permanent employment for the rest of our career. Once one become a non-permanent employee, only 10-25% of us find our way out to permanent employment within 3 years. This is significantly low compared to most of the developed countries in this world. And unlike Singapore, it is very common in Japan to get lesser pay and benefits every time you change job.

In Singapore, a freshie not being able to find job doesn’t mean that they would stay unemployed or doomed to non-permanent employment for the rest of their lives.

Singapore has only 1.8% unemployment. This means a good 98% of the citizens have jobs. Flip the newspapers and the job-seek websites – there are so many good jobs around. It is a fact that Singapore is an employee’s market, made more so by recent policy changes on foreign manpower.

From my observation, fresh graduates who claim they cannot find jobs – are victims of excessive options. I’ll be downright frank here – complaining there are no jobs here is akin to a girl, looking at her well-stocked closet and then lamenting there is nothing to wear.

I know there are many well-meaning sites offering advice, guidelines and statistics which makes a degree holder think he/she deserves a high position or salary. In the real world, no one “deserves” a high starting salary. It is always your skills and abilities that command what you get.

For this same reason, I know too many a non-graduate or school dropout who have become rich, powerful, successful and influential by their own abilities, without the need of any certification.

I hope the NHK will be very careful in their reporting and not end up making it sound like they have a personal vendetta against Singapore – like how the BBC had done in recent times.



Click to access ges-nus.pdf














こんなに頑張ってみても、卒業までに正社員の職を見つけることができる学生は、全体の60%ほど にすぎません。では、残りの学生達はどうなってしまうのでしょうか。残念なことに、彼らの多くが、今後のキャリアを非正規雇用のまま過ごすことになります。ある調査によると、一度非正規雇用についた日本の若者が3年後に正社員の職を見つけている確率は、10〜25%程度と、他の先進諸国に比べて著しく低いものでした。更に残念なことに日本では一般的に、転職回数が多くなるほど、就ける職が限られ、条件もまた悪くなっていきます。









Click to access ges-nus.pdf






  1. Seems like Japanese companies know how to act in unison. If all employers only recruit fresh graduate, or those laid off, but not those looking for higher pay, job hopping will be difficult. But then if these companies care to develop their employees and offer long term employment assurance, it may be good for both employers and employees. Maybe our MOM can promote similar win win ideas, rather than just leave problems to ‘market forces’ ?

    1. The strategy you proposed will end up producing a lot of top heavy, inefficient and uncreative companies.

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