It was reported in the local media on Saturday (4 Feb 2023) that IT graduates from the local universities are having a hard time finding tech jobs.

James Looi, a promising IT graduate from the Singapore Management Univerity (SMU) was good enough to have earned the coveted internships at GovTech, Grab and Shopee.

But five months ahead of his graduation last December, Mr Looi did not get any interviews despite applying for 20 tech jobs.

The only company that granted him interviews was tech company TikTok. Still, after seven rounds of interviews with the company, he was unceremoniously dropped.

Mr Looi said, “I was shocked, disappointed and helpless. I never considered the possibility I would graduate and be unable to find a (tech) job.”

Another graduate, who only gave his name as Mr Tan, was also disappointed. He graduated last December with a digital business degree and applied to several prominent tech companies but did not get any replies.

Mr Tan said, “My first choice would definitely be a career in tech, but the industry would need some time to rebound. I am now looking for jobs in banking and marketing, and hope to get back to tech after one to two years.”

Local graduates like Mr Looi and Mr Tan are among a slew of IT graduates fighting for jobs in the current tech downturn. Many tech companies, including Shopee, Facebook and Twitter, have been laying off people in recent times.

The present slowdown in the tech job market has certainly surprised many IT graduates, who had a 97.8 per cent overall employment rate back in 2021.

When contacted by the local media, the local universities said that they have career coaches to prepare students and graduates for their job search through mentoring and workshops.

Majority of team members from India

Meanwhile, a source in the IT company, Cognizant Singapore, has told TOC that a number of IT staff were successfully transferred from India to the Singapore’s branch last year.

They were all given work passes by the Manpower Ministry to work here. TOC emailed Cognizant last November for a response, but to date, there has been no reply.

Indian IT engineers and managers were said to have been transferred to Singapore to work on projects which Cognizant has secured from clients in Singapore.

Under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), intra-corporate transferees can be transferred from one country to another and work in that country for up to as long as 8 years.

Also, CECA gives preferential access for Singapore service providers and investors in the various sectors of interest: including engineering, banking, telecommunications and real estate development. Such access gives them more opportunities to expand beyond Singapore, MTI said.

In any case, it’s not known if the other India-based IT companies like Wipro, Infosys, TCS, etc are doing the same by constantly transferring Indian IT people to their Singapore’s branches to work here.

The source also confirmed with TOC that the majority of people in project teams are from India and that he is not impressed with the quality of those transferred from India to work here. In meetings, they tend to speak in Hindi among themselves, oblivious to the other non-Indian people inside the meeting, the source told TOC.

Indeed, according to a study in India, it has been said that 95% of engineers in India are unfit for software development jobs. And according to Quacquarelli Symonds’ (QS) ranking of universities in the world, the top 5 universities in India were ranked more than 150th:

  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (World ranking 155)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB),  Mumbai (World ranking 172)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD), New Delhi (World ranking 174)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), Chennai (World ranking 250)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-KGP), Kharagpur (World ranking 270)
In Singapore, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked 11th, while Nanyang Technological Univerity (NTU)19th.
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