Two-thirds of workers willing to move overseas


Better life: Evening commuters at a bus stop in Singapore. The most prominent reasons encouraging local workers to relocate are financial and economic factors. — Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: Nearly two in three Singapore workers are willing to relocate for work, with Australia being the most popular destination, a recent survey found.

This figure of 64%, who are willing to move, is a marked drop from 87% in 2018, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the Singapore workers willing to relocate, 72% are young professionals aged below 30.

The survey findings released on May 14 by jobs portal Jobstreet by Seek also showed that South-East Asian and global markets have similar proportions of workers willing to relocate, at 68% and 63%, respectively.

Commenting on the findings, David Blasco, general manager at recruitment firm Randstad Singapore, said: “Traditionally, Singaporeans sought opportunities abroad for better remuneration, job satisfaction or a healthier work-life balance.”

But the Covid-19 pandemic changed this significantly, he said.

“More companies in Singapore are offering better benefits and initiatives and reshaping job responsibilities to meet talent expectations, reducing the allure of overseas ventures.”

Similarly, Alyce Cheong, a certified Institute for Human Resource Professionals senior professional, said that Singapore, being home to many regional headquarters and multinational corporations, provides workers here with opportunities to advance in their careers locally.

She also noted that the survey sample mainly consists of respondents in their mid-30s to mid-40s, which is a stage in life when individuals begin to start having families of their own, deterring them from moving abroad.

The report was based on a global survey conducted from October to December 2023 of 150,735 people in 188 countries. These included 3,260 respondents from the Singapore workforce, of whom 87% are Singaporeans and the rest are expatriates.

Among Singapore respondents, those in marketing and media are the most willing to relocate for work.

This is followed by those in the digitalisation, data science and artificial intelligence fields.

At the other end of the spectrum, the social care and social services industry and administration and secretariat industry have the lowest proportion of respondents willing to move.

The most popular destination for Singapore workers is Australia, which 33% of respondents ranked in their top three spots, followed by other high-technology economies such as China, Japan and the United States.

Jobstreet said neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are also popular as they are frequent travel destinations for Singapore workers.

In terms of the length of overseas postings, Singapore respondents prefer short-term stints lasting between one and three years.

In contrast, the preference among respondents in the wider South-East Asia and Hong Kong regions is for medium-term stays lasting more than three years with the intention of returning.

Meanwhile, the global average figures show a preference for long-term, indefinite stays.

Cheong said Singapore workers’ preference for shorter stays could be “to fulfill familial obligations and be here to nurture the next generation”.

The most prominent factors encouraging Singaporean workers to relocate are financial and economic reasons, similar to South-East Asian and global trends. This was cited by 60% of Singaporean respondents. — The Straits Times/ANN

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