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Young, local and with global experience? Employers here want you

They represent the best of both worlds: having overseas experience with an in-depth knowledge of the local work culture

More young and talented job seekers from the region are keen to return as they see Asia as an engine for global economic growth while the West is facing more economic uncertainty.


MORE Singaporeans and South-east Asians in their 20s to early 30s who have graduated or worked overseas are returning home to work here, recruiters told The Business Times.

Daljit Sall, director for technologies at Randstad Singapore, said: "We have definitely seen more and more young talent returning to Singapore to build their careers."

Korn Ferry Futurestep's head of search and client development in Asean Dilal Ranasinghe has recently seen a "more noticeable" trend although it has been happening for five to seven years now.

He said the interest in returning has come amid greater economic uncertainty in the West such as Brexit, along with greater opportunities on this side of the world.

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"Asia as a whole is the engine for global economic growth over the next 10 years," he said. "There are huge pull factors for talent to come to this region."

For corporates here, such candidates are attractive because they represent the best of both worlds.

Mr Sall said companies "are always looking for talent with global experience to bring a different perspective to the workplace, share best practices from what they've learned abroad while still having an in-depth knowledge of the local work culture".

According to Mr Ranasinghe, the years candidates spent living overseas have helped them to develop qualities like "agility, curiosity, emotional acumen" on top of technical excellence in their fields.

They can also help fill talent gaps. A recent Korn Ferry study found that the talent shortage in Singapore stands at more than one million workers, with a potential loss in annual revenue of US$106.8 billion by 2030.

Korn Ferry Futurestep sees such young talent returning to take up roles in financial services.

Such job seekers have their own reasons for coming home, recruiters say - these may include family considerations and Singapore's stable political and economic conditions.

But there may be other perks.

Elliot Jackson, associate director of head of contracting and interim at recruiter Morgan McKinley in Singapore, said: "If a Singaporean graduate goes overseas and works for an overseas business for a few years they could secure a more senior role when they return."

An example was how he once placed a candidate who had five years' worth of Big Four audit experience, much of it in the US and Australia, into "a much bigger role" than he would have secured if he were to have stayed in Singapore and worked for the Big Four here.

Even a short stint abroad can sometimes be useful.

"Young local grads here should get work experience overseas, even if it's working at a bar for a few months before they figure out what they want to do," he said.

Another recruiter, Robert Walters, said the sort of international experience in currency now also includes time in Western multinationals at home, according to its annual white paper released on Monday on how Asia-headquartered companies can attract talent in their bids to internationalise.

Out of 57 per cent or nearly six in 10 of companies it surveyed, which include those headquartered both in the West and Asia, hiring homegrown or returning talent that had worked for Western companies, whether overseas or in their home countries, was "very" or "somewhat important" to them.

"Recent years of restructuring and realignment of business direction and strategies by Western companies have impacted the careers of PMETs in Singapore," said Joanne Chua, regional client development director for Southeast Asia and Greater China at Robert Walters Singapore. "Asian companies are an alternative for these PMETs."

Robert Walters' report made several recommendations to Asia-based companies, include making clear to potential candidates perks such as competitive compensation, expansion strategies, and attractions like the fast-track career development that comes with being part of an expanding business in a fast-growing economy.

But for younger candidates, there may be additional considerations such as the millennial's preference for work-life balance.

Said Mr Sall of Randstad: "Companies can consider developing a more robust training programme for these individuals to provide them with the global experience that they seek while working for a Singapore-based company or introduce flexi-work arrangements to support a more balanced lifestyle."

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