By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “More than half of employees in Singapore planning to leave jobs: Survey”( Straits Times, Mar 28).

More than 1 in 2 want to resign?

It states that “More than one in two (56%) employees in Singapore are planning to leave their jobs within the next two years because of unsatisfactory compensation”.

“the figure rises even higher among those aged 18 to 34″ (“Compensation Woes Driving Singaporeans To Seek New Opportunities”, TR Emeritus, Mar 28).


I was rather tickled by the above in my mind, and was wondering whether there may be any statistics which may help to explain this rather strange phenomena of the majority of workers planning to leave their jobs because the pay was not enough.

Well, the Department of Statistics has just released its  Statistics Singapore Newsletter (SSN), on the same day as the above news report.

74% tertiary educated?

According to the Educational Profile of Singapore Resident Non-Students, 2002-2012, “more than 70 per cent of Singapore resident non-students aged 25-29 years and 30-34 years were tertiary educated.”

In contrast, less than 20 per cent among those aged 60-64 years, and 65 years and over had tertiary qualifications.”

More educated Singaporeans?

This means that there has been a persistent trend of Singaporeans becoming more educated over the years.

“Between 2002 and 2012, there was a marked increase in the proportion of the population with tertiary qualifications.

University graduates constituted 26 per cent of the resident non-student population aged 25 years and over in 2012, up from 15 per cent a decade ago.

Persons with diploma and professional qualifications also accounted for a larger share of the resident non-student population at 14 per cent in 2012, up from 8.9 per cent in 2002.

Overall, the tertiary educated accounted for 40 per cent of the resident non-student population aged 25 years and over in 2012, up from 24 per cent in 2002.” – This means that in the last decade, the proportion of tertiary educated residents increased by about 67 per cent.

131% increase in tertiary educated?

As to “Among the resident non-student population aged 35-44 years, the proportion with tertiary qualifications also increased significantly from 26 per cent in 2002 to 60 per cent in 2012″ – it means that the increase was even higher, at 131 per cent, for those aged 34-44 years.

Upgrade! Upgrade?

Could the above be attributed to the consistent rhethoric to Singaporeans to upgrade themselves?

With regard to “Over the last decade, the mean years of schooling rose for every age group, reaching 13.6 years for the age group of 25-34 years, 12.7 years for the age group of 35-44 years, 10.3 years for the age group of 45-54 years and 6.9 years for the age group of 55 years and over in 2012″ – it is further evidence that Singaporeans are spending more time in school to get higher qualifications.We have always been told over the years that we must continue to upgrade and that PMET jobs would pay more – arguably, the axiom was perhaps the more educated you are, the more pay you can expect.

This issue is perhaps underscored by Professor Linda Low’s remarks “Pointing out a sentence in the Government’s January Population White Paper, which said that Singaporeans “aspire to be in higher-skilled and more rewarding work”, Prof Lim said that this is already a value judgment by the authorities” (“Executive-focused society in Singapore ‘is bizarre’“, New Paper, Mar 25).

Pay increase?

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case if we look at the wage statistics. For example, the estimated real median wage growth per annum was about 0.4 per cent, from 2000 to 2012. (“Real wage growth p.a. in 1990s was 16 times more than last 12 years?, Mar 5)

The stark reality may be that if half of the workers (median) had estimated real median wage growth per annum of only about 0.4 per cent for the last 12 years, and 74 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 in the last decade are tertiary educated – may mean that the axiom that more educated means more pay may be a fallacy.

I also find it rather puzzling as to why the above data does not include the tertiary educated who are below 25 years old. So, if we include this group, does it mean that the proportion of tertiary educated may be even higher than 74 per cent?

Trade grew 7.4%?

In the same  Statistics Singapore Newsletter (SSN), according to Singapore’s Merchandise Trade Performance, 2003-2012, “Over the past decade, Singapore’s trade rose significantly from S$516 billion in 2003 to reach S$985 billion in 2012 in nominal terms, achieving a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4 per cent.

Today, the value of Singapore’s merchandise trade is 2.85 times its gross domestic product (GDP).”

6.2% GDP growth?

During this same period. from 2003 to 2012, GDP growth was about 6.2 per cent per annum.

Did pay grow too?

So, the question that Singaporeans may want to ask is where has all the good GDP and trade growth over the years gone to, since it appears that they have not been translated into better wage increase for more educated Singaporeans?

Foreign labour & immigration policy?

Arguably, we may have managed to grow the economy with our liberal foreign labour and immigration policies. But at what price? – Hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans may be paying the price in recent years. (“Social Health: Only 1 positive out of 9 – shocking?”, Mar 28)


You May Also Like

HDB – S’poreans’ billions of ‘reserves’ raided?

Leong Sze Hian / I refer to the reports “WP rebuts Minister’s…

From Gold Standard to becoming Asia's most infected country after the much more populous China and India

According to reports on Bloomberg, Singapore has now become Asia’s most Corona…

What are we to make of an opposition that is reduced to being a mere spectator in a crisis?

The opposition watches and waits out the crisis while the government hogs…