Millennials Need No Sugarcoating. The Starting Pay For Fresh Uni Grads Only Looks Good In Number.

Millennials Need No Sugarcoating. The Starting Pay For Fresh Uni Grads Only Looks Good In Number.

Ming Feng

Fresh university graduates are earning more in the year 2017 according to Straits Times, or so they say.

If you have yet to read the article, here are some quick pointers:

Source: Straits Times
  • Fresh university graduates earned a higher starting pay last year.
  • Take home median monthly salary stands at $3,400, higher than $3,300 in the year 2016.
  • Fresh graduates with degrees in business, economics, and computing saw the highest pay increment
  • The survey accounts for 11,628 fresh graduates who graduated from National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU)

MOE Graduate Employment Survey

While there is no size fits all survey when it comes to everything, here’s are some ways the survey can give a better picture.

MOE Graduate Employment Survey excluded private university education

  • The annual output of university graduates from National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) is at 15,895 as of 2016 (according to Singstat).
  • The Graduate Employment Survey accounts only for 11,628 fresh graduates who graduated from NUS, NTU, and SMU.
  • It failed to account for students from SIT and SUTD.
  • It also failed to take into account for a large number of students in private university education, which are receiving way lesser.
  • private university costs
    The last time we checked, SIM (or now known as SUSS) has about 22,000 students and their starting pay of $2,600 can definitely put the statistics into better perspective.
  • Based on a recent employment survey, below are the starting salaries for various institutions:
     Starting Pay
    Fresh polytechnic graduatesS$2,517 per month
    Fresh Local University GraduatesS$3,325 per month
    Fresh Private University GraduatesTMC Academy: S$2,650 per month
    SIM: S$2,600 per month
    ERC Institute: S$2,550 per month

Read also: Can’t make it to a local university? Does it make sense to enrol into a private university education?

MOE Graduate Employment Survey might have included foreign students in their survey

Let us face the truth. It might be a little more expensive to hire a Singaporean.

  • Assuming a foreign student and a Singaporean asking for the same take-home pay of $3,400.
  • The chance of a Singaporean graduate landing a job might be influenced by the extra need for CPF contribution.

Things to really focus on!

A better number to focus on would be the pay increment of Singaporeans over time.

  • Our inflation rate stands at 2.62% on average from the year 1962 to 2018.
  • The nominal wage of Singaporeans over the past years showed little sign of increment despite increased inflation rate.
  • This means that however great your starting pay, the purchasing power of it will decrease over time as things get more expensive with inflation.

What should millennials do?

Enough bashing, what can millennials do knowing that the starting salary is probably lower than what was usually publicised?

“What are the 2 factors Singaporeans prioritises as most important for their first job?”

There is no other place to ask questions than the Seedly Personal Finance Community, so here we go:

Important factors

Here’s the final answer:

Factors to considerPercentage of votes
Job Scope13.2%

The reasons behind the above votes are simple:

  • Jasmine Chye Fong Yee
    1. Job scope
    2. Culture/colleagues
    I always feel that your first job is for one to learn as much as they can as a fresh employee, hence, job scope is important. One may end up with a lousy boss and pay but at least you learn at that first job. Culture and colleagues of the company play a big role in helping one sustain the first 3-5 years (if the boss is bad etc).
  • Aik Kai
    1. Boss
    2. Progression
    Personally, a good boss would allow you to progress in your career. Colleagues and culture are very close behind. Benefits and salary will come as you progress.
  • Adeep D. Ace 
    1. Boss
    2. Culture
    I’m still a student and I’ve been in various part-time jobs. I’ve realised how important company culture and maturity of bosses are when it comes down to spending the most part of your life in the workplace. The pay may be great, however, if the culture is toxic and your boss has the mentality of a 12-year-old, quitting is the best option for me.
  • Justine Carys 
    1. Boss
    2. Progression.
    A good boss is important. It is the number 1 factor to us being happy at our workplace where we spend long hours in, on a daily basis.
    Progression, with a good boss but with no progression, life has no purpose. Must have the opportunity for progression, then a good boss can help you go further. With progression, pay also progresses.
  • Lim Hong Yi 
    1st year of working: Culture and job scope. Learn the most and have the most “fun” because you get thrown all kinds of work as a fresh grad. Mistakes are taken as “learning” experiences.2nd to 3rd year: Boss and colleagues. The only real reason that keeps you in the company even though you’re starting to get jaded (same job scope, overloaded, bad clients etc)

    4th to 5th year: Salary and progression. After working these many years, you would have seen how the company rewards its employees. At this stage of life (getting married, kids, housing etc.) you also start to appreciate money more than anything else.

    Sharing my personal experience. Am into my 4th year now

  • Marcus Yeo
    1. Boss
    2. Job scope
    For the first job, I would say focusing on boss & job scope. A boss that gives you opportunities to shine/helps guide you if you are unsure of your career path/willing to teach basically like a mentor. That way your job scope will be crafted to that and you will be learning and prep yourself daily so that went you go on to your next job or by 30 onwards you have the skillsets and direction to command progression, salary & better benefits. Benefiting both professional and personal you. That’s how I see it.

Read also: The Ultimate Salary Guide For Singaporeans

Don’t get us wrong – Education is important!

Well, don’t get us wrong. We totally support Singaporeans constantly self-upgrading with knowledge and skills. This may not be in the form of a degree!

A good example of two candidates applying for a degree in Economics:

  • Student X with a keen interest in Economics has an A Level result of:
    A for Economics, D for the rest of the other subjects
  • Student Y with a lesser interest in Economics, with A Level result of:
    B for Economics, A for the rest of the other subjects
  • Chances of Student Y getting a place in the university is way higher.

We have seen our fair bit of successful Singaporeans succeeding without a degree, and it is all because he or she was able to pursue where their interest lies. Go on and get that degree if that is where your interest lies.

The last thing millennials need is to be fed nice numbers and painted a great story.

There is more to life, especially with the generation that is near the bottom of the pyramid of our ageing population. If there is a more accurate data to better plan for their future, they need to know!

About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
You can contribute your thoughts like Ming Feng here.

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