With the global economy on the rocks, the local job market for recent graduates looks to be slowing down.
One of the employment worries of job applicants is that they might have to settle for a position they did not plan for originally. And that includes having to settle for less.
Lee Jianxing, a computing graduate from the class of 2008, had hoped to acquire a job in the banking sector.
After several unsuccessful attempts, he finally settled for a job in the IT industry. However, he had to revise his salary expectations to $2,500, far below the industry standard of $3,000 and above.
This is not an uncommon story going by the interviews conducted by The Observer with nine recent NUS graduates.
Three of the interviewees said they took longer than two months to land a job. Another five accepted salaries lower than their expected minimum salary.
According to the October-December Hudson Report, hiring expectations have been in steady decline for over a year, and at present, ranks as the second lowest in Asia.
The survey reports that of the 800 executives in key business sectors, 37% are planning to increase headcount, as compared to the 43% of the previous quarter.
The Hudson Report is a quarterly survey forwarded to almost 6000 key Asian employment decision-makers from all major industries, covering the latest employment trends and their quarterly hiring expectations.
This downward trend in the job market growth follows last year’s climbing inflation and financial turmoil, and is a key indication of a bleak economic outlook.
On Oct. 10, 2008, Singapore became the first Asian nation to fall into technical recession as the government reported an economic decline for two straight quarters.
With the island state’s economic growth forecast being revised rapidly downwards, currently standing between a dismal -2.0 and -5.0 per cent for 2009, economists are predicting a worsening job market in the months ahead.
“A year back, everything was still fine. I didn’t think all the economic troubles would turn so bad. Now I regret putting off finding a job,” said Pricilla Woo, a 2007 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Arts.
Woo took a break in 2007, and began her job hunt in late 2008. Months later, after 50 applications and eight interviews, she is still jobless.
In the face of the dismal news, students set to graduate soon are expressing concern for their future job prospects.
“It’s worrying. I’m going to graduate, who knows how bad the job market could become by then,” said Arlianny Sayrol, fourth-year communications and new media major.
Yet, while some sectors are feeling the heat, the trend does not appear to apply across the board.
For example, the science graduates interviewed did not report difficulty looking for jobs involving their respective fields.
Serene Li, an NUS 2008 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in food science, said, “Yeah, I’ve heard that finding jobs is getting tough, especially in finance, but my friends and I in life sciences have not had any difficulty finding jobs. The pay is okay too.”
And it might not be surprising that some sectors, such as the life sciences, have remained relatively unscathed, since the hardest hit are those where the credit crisis first developed.
According to the October report released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, while unemployment rate is predicted to rise over the next few quarters, the impact in employment growth “will especially be felt in the manufacturing and financial services sectors.''
While graduates might not get their dream job in finance now, it is perhaps wise to settle for less than none at all amidst what looks like a deepening economic crisis.