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Working in Singapore

Thinking about working in Singapore? The city-state offers job opportunities in various sectors as well as a high quality of life. With this InterNations Guide, you will learn all you need to know about the economy, social security, and business etiquette in Singapore.
Singapore combines a wide range of  career opportunities with high living standards.

At a Glance:

  • Singapore has multiple main industry sectors including electronics, oil and gas, financial services, shipping, and chemicals. Healthcare is also a major industry in Singapore with hundreds of thousands of “medical tourists” visiting every year to get treated by doctors and nurses.
  • Singapore’s healthcare system has been ranked second best in the world. Expats looking to move to Singapore can feel at ease being in the hands of world-class medical professionals.
  • The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a contribution-based retirement scheme, which is only available to expats in Singapore with a permanent resident status. If expats later decide to leave Singapore for good, they can request a CPF payout.
  • Business etiquette in Singapore might vary to your home culture — while dining with business associates is considered highly important, giving gifts on the other hand can often be misconstrued, and seen as bribery.

 

Well over 1.3 million expats are currently working in Singapore, and more than 7,000 multinational corporations operate in the small island state in Southeast Asia. Singaporeans have been working hard to transform the former British colony into a well-to-do independent state, and a regional center of the finance, trade, and high-tech industries.

Employees in Singapore are contributing to the country’s continuing success story. Although Singapore was negatively impacted by the global economic crisis ten years ago, it has since recovered to be a highly developed free-market economy.

The country is often described as the world’s logistic hub. It provides a stable base for international companies that want to expand into the Asian market — being therefore both the cause and effect of the high numbers of international workers in Singapore.

A Glimpse into the Nation’s Economy

Singapore has a highly developed, knowledge-based economy focusing on export as well as refining imported goods. The fact that Singapore is one of the world’s top five oil trading and refining hubs is little known. Tiger Balm, on the other hand, also made in Singapore, conquered the world quite a while ago.

Multinational companies play an important role in Singapore’s economy. Siemens’s production of hearing aids, for example, which satisfies 30 percent of global demand, is mainly done by employees working in Singapore.

A well-established network of private enterprise and government-linked companies seems to be working in favor of Singapore’s economic development. Two sovereign wealth funds, Temasek Holdings and the Government Investment Corporation, act as the investment arm of the government, holding stakes in big national and international companies.

Singapore’s Economy: Its Ups and Downs

Singapore being a nation which relies heavily on export might be seen as one of the city-state’s limitations. The relatively small workforce of about 3.65 million Singaporeans does, however, allow for a flexible, open, and innovative economy which can react promptly to a change in global market conditions.

The government invests a lot of its money into one of its biggest assets, the Singaporean people. A combination of a good educational system and a competitive, business-friendly environment encourages homegrown talent. In addition, it also attracts and retains foreign business and highly skilled foreign-born individuals to Singapore.

Singapore’s Biggest Sectors: Might It All Be Changing?

Singapore might not have the largest of populations, however, in 2017 a research report announced that the city-state has become the number one for global start-up talent; overtaking the infamous Silicon Valley. This is partly due to Singapore’s ideal geographical location, but also due to investment support from the nation’s government.

Most people working in Singapore are employed in one of the main industries, such as electronics, oil and gas, financial services, shipping and chemicals. Medical and IT professionals are ever still in high demand. To find out which professions have a need for new employees, visit the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

Healthcare and Tourism: Combining Two Popular Sectors

Healthcare is one of Singapore’s major sectors. Hundreds of thousands of “medical tourists” are treated by doctors and nurses working in Singapore every year. Conventional tourism also plays an important role, creating plenty of jobs for both skilled and unskilled employees. Again, the government has been working hard to transform Singapore from a popular stop-over point into a tourist destination in its own right — attempts such as legalizing gambling and introducing casinos have even been put into place to attract more tourists and make the city a more appealing place for foreigners.

You can also check out our extended article on the Economy of Singapore for a more in-depth look at economic opportunities and recent challenges the city-state has faced.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

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