Singapore 8th globally, leads in Asia for work: Talent Report

Decoding Global Talent 2024 Report: Singapore ranks eighth as the preferred work destination globally, tops list for Asian cities

  • The global study on international mobility trends features survey data from more than 150,000 workforce respondents from 188 countries
  • Globally, one in four professionals are actively seeking jobs abroad; Three in five Singaporeans are willing to move abroad for work
  • Talent who chose Singapore as preferred work destination cite quality of job opportunities available as top reason

Despite global challenges such as geopolitical tensions, widespread economic concerns, and emerging virtual mobility trends, the prospect of moving abroad for work remains a dream for many professionals around the world, with 23% actively seeking jobs in other countries, and 63% expressing an overall willingness to do so.

English-speaking geographies with strong economies lead the list of top destinations, with Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK being the four most desirable countries. Singapore comes in eight place, maintaining its rank in the top 10 most desirable destinations to work since 2020.

London tops the list of most desirable cities worldwide, while New York and Singapore secures the fifth and seventh spot, respectively. Meanwhile, Singapore surpasses Tokyo and emerges as the top Asian city that most respondents would consider moving to for work.

These insights stem from a new report published today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Network, of which Jobstreet by SEEK is a part of, and The Stepstone Group. Titled Decoding Global Talent 2024, the study is based on survey data from more than 150,000 respondents in the workforce spanning 188 countries.

“Employers in Singapore must strive to attract and retain both local and foreign talent, as we could expect talent shortages in the future with the country’s small and ageing population. With Singapore being a popular destination for the global workforce, local employers are already well-positioned to do so, and Jobstreet is committed to helping them enhance their workforce further. Our new platform allows employers to tap into a vast pool of talent across eight Asia Pacific markets, facilitating relevant connections with highly skilled professionals from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong,” says Chew Siew Mee, Managing Director, Singapore, Jobstreet by SEEK.

The survey results also reveal that global talent moves abroad primarily for professional advancement with those willing to do so citing financial and economic reasons (64% of respondents) and career considerations such as work experience (56%) as their top motivators. Most people are willing to relocate to Singapore due to the abundance of quality job opportunities. This attraction is further bolstered by the country’s overall quality of life, alongside factors such as the cost of living and reputation for safety, stability, and security.

Most talent who wish to move to Singapore are from neighbouring countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Hong Kong. In fact, nearly one in three (30%) Malaysian respondents prefer Singapore as a working destination. Despite the distance, talent from countries with large populations such as China and India also expressed a strong interest in Singapore.

Talent who are willing to move to Singapore mostly seek job opportunities in Marketing and Media, as well as the Digital, Data Science and AI industries. Meanwhile, highly-skilled professions like Business Management, Engineering as well as Research and Laboratory are increasingly drawing the attention of international talent as they will have greater opportunities to explore these roles in Singapore.

On the flip side, 64% of Singapore respondents expressed a willingness to pursue opportunities abroad, especially in Australia, followed by other high-tech and mature economies such as China and Japan. Out of this group of respondents who are willing to move, young Singaporeans are more likely to be mobile (72%), similar to the SEA (70%) and global average (73%). However, it’s worth noting that most Singaporeans aspiring to work overseas prefer short-term assignments, and they intend to return home after achieving their goals overseas.

The study also highlights the fact that workers who move abroad expect employers to take the lead in supporting their relocation and onboarding to cultivate an international, inclusive culture. Nearly eight out of 10 respondents expect to receive help with housing (79%) as well as visa and work permit assistance (78%), and more than half count on relocation support (69%) and language support and training (54%). Singaporeans eager to work abroad expressed the need for considerable support from their future employers in the areas of housing assistance (84%), relocation (81%) and visa and work permit assistance (77%) to ease the challenge of adapting to a new culture overseas.

“Other countries can be a great source of talent. But establishing a channel of workers from abroad requires employers to fundamentally overhaul how they recruit, relocate, and integrate talent,” said Jens Baier, managing director, senior partner and leader of BCG’s work in HR excellence. “They may have to challenge their own biases and look for talent in markets and regions that they had not previously considered. Governments also play a strong enabling role in this process. They must establish policies, incentives, and frameworks that help employers bring in the talent they need. Employers and nations that tap into such positive energy from the millions of workers with mobile aspirations will gain a major competitive advantage and source of growth.”

About the Survey

BCG, The Network (together with its affiliate organizations), and The Stepstone Group conducted this anonymous, online survey from October through December 2023. All told, 150,735 people in 188 countries participated.

The survey elicited workers’ attitudes on various topics, including their willingness to move abroad for work, the countries they would most like to work in, their reasons for choosing those countries, and their expectations of their future employers in a new country. The data gathered in the survey (including a wide range of information on participants’ demographic and professional backgrounds) made it possible to analyze workers’ attitudes on the basis of multiple parameters.

BCG also conducted follow-up interviews with select study participants around the world—many of whom were interviewed before and have been followed for several years.

About Jobstreet by SEEK

Jobstreet is the leading employment platform in Southeast Asia, helping people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and helping organisations succeed. It is a subsidiary of SEEK, a diverse group of companies comprised of a strong portfolio of online employment, educational, commercial and volunteer businesses. SEEK is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and has a strong presence across the APAC region, including six Asian markets – Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – through the Jobstreet and JobsDB brands. SEEK attracts over 500 million visits a year in Asia.

About The Network

The Network is a global alliance of more than 70 leading recruitment websites committed to finding the best talent in over 150 countries. Founded in 2002, The Network has become the global leader in online recruitment, serving more than 2,000 global corporations. The recruitment websites in The Network attract almost 200 million unique visitors each month. .

About The Stepstone Group 

The Stepstone Group is a leading global digital recruitment platform that connects companies with the right talent and helps people find the right job. The Stepstone Group connects more than 130 million job applications with around 140,000 employers every year. With its integrated platforms, The Stepstone Group simplifies the candidates job search as well supporting recruiters with AI-powered solutions for the entire recruitment process. In 2023, The Stepstone Group generated revenue of around €1 billion. The Stepstone Group operates in more than 30 countries—including Stepstone in Germany, Appcast in the US, and Totaljobs in the UK. The company is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany and employs around 4,000 people worldwide.

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.

Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.

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