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Singapore IT grads expecting 20% higher pay than business, engineering peers: poll

Salary expectations among Singaporean students have been rising steadily year on year, with IT graduates expecting about S$4,500 per month, an annual survey by employer branding firm Universum shows.

SALARY expectations among Singaporean students have been rising steadily year on year, with IT graduates expecting about S$4,500 per month, an annual survey by employer branding firm Universum shows. 

In particular, salary expectations among IT graduates are significantly higher compared to business and engineering  students, echoing an "increased demand for a very low supply of technical and digital talent in Singapore", the report said.

On average, IT graduates expected an annual salary of S$53,721. This works out to about S$4,500 per month, which is about 20 per cent higher than the expected salary among business and engineering students. 

Business/commerce students expected an annual salary of S$44,459, while engineering/natural sciences students expected an annual salary of S$44,661, according to the poll. 

In addition, 44 per cent of business and commerce students chose banking as their most preferred industry this year. Most banks also show a noticeable improvement in ranking, with Credit Suisse (+35), Goldman Sachs (+7), DBS (+4) and JPMorgan (+2) among some of the biggest gainers. 

The sector's rise in popularity can be partly attributed to students' strong desire to work for an international organisation as their first job after graduation, the report highlighted. 

"It is interesting to see over 50 per cent of students want to start their professional career at an international company, something that's clearly reflected in the Top 100 business rankings: seven out of the top 10 companies are international companies," Universum said. 

Meanwhile, the public sector faced an overall decline in raking positions, with business students indicating "not knowing enough about public sector employers", and "intense competition to get hired", as two main reasons for not selecting
the public sector as a preferred industry.

Mike Parsons, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Universum, said: "The demand for digital and IT talent in Singapore continues to increase. Not only does the survey highlight the pressure this is putting on salaries, this trend is pushing employers, especially non-traditional employers of digital talent, to be more strategic and segmented with what they offer and communicate.

"And the messaging is working too, shown by the way banks have risen to the second most preferred industry for IT talent ahead of more natural choices, such as e-commerce and tech hardware. The banks are back in a big way. Sadly, the same can't be said for the public sector, who've had strong losses across the board, and are losing their appeal among the current crop of graduates."

Similar to past years, students also chose "to have work/life balance" and "to be secure or stable in my job" as their number one and two career goals respectively.  

"This shows millennials and Gen Zs still value work-life balance most," Universum said. 

When asked about the communication channels they use to research their future employers, both business/commerce and IT students indicated social media as the most important source of information for them. Engineering and natural sciences students, however, indicated that they learnt most about their employers through career fairs.

This year, Universum's Top 100 Ideal Employers survey polled over 10,000 students from Singapore's universities, and Google once again topped the list as the most ideal employer among Singapore's business/commerce, engineering/natural sciences and IT students.