Expats who have been recruited by a company in Singapore or who transfer to a branch office of their current company do not have to worry about the job market and popular fields of employment. “Self-made” expats, however, usually cannot avoid researching economic trends thoroughly. This is particularly the case if you are going to switch professions.
Some fields of employment are stronger than others and offer better opportunities for expats to find employment. This is a brief overview of these key industries.
The service sector is incredibly strong in Singapore. One of its biggest employers by far is the tourism industry attracting 15.2 million people in 2015 alone. The industry has even begun to diversify and include medical, business, and retail tourism, as well as many other new developments. The increase in visitors and the development of tourism in Singapore creates new job opportunities for people with specialized knowledge.
In terms of banking and finance, Singapore is a true global player. There are over 200 national and international banks, wealth management companies, and other financial institutions in Singapore and many of them have established their headquarters here. Singapore has become a major financial hub in Asia, particularly in the field of insurance and foreign exchange. Because of the sector’s international orientation, expat employees are always welcome here. However, the competition can be tough. You can learn more about banks in Singapore from our guide.
In recent years, the construction industry has experienced a boom as demands for new shopping malls, hotels, and business parks increased. Even though growth has slowed down over the last years, it still grew by 2.5% in 2015. Despite the small recession that the country might face in the upcoming months, construction is still a promising field for expats who are currently on the job search. However, keep an eye on the skills-in-demand information from the Ministry of Manpower.
Medical tourism is fueling the healthcare sector in Singapore. Since the country’s medical standards are high and the healthcare system is one of the best in Asia, more and more foreign nationals head to Singapore for medical treatment. Around 550,000 international patients visit the country each year. Further, with over 100 med-tech SME’s in Singapore, medical technology is also a very promising sector and expected to grow by 10% until 2017. You can refer to our guide on healthcare in Singapore for more information.
Communications and media are sectors which are currently evolving into major economic forces. Singapore sees itself as a “global media city”, strengthening its ties to the international media scene and collaborating with different foreign businesses. Currently, there are more than 500 national and international media companies with a focus on animation, post-production, and distribution employing over 75,000 workers. The strong infrastructure makes it easy to connect both locally and globally to get international attention for Singapore’s media sector.
Singapore is an established IT hub: Twitter opened its Asia Pacific headquarters here in 2015 and Netflix is expected to open its Asia regional hub in the country soon. The IT industry is growing globally, but what makes Singapore special is its government’s support: in 2015 the government launched 2.2 billion SGD worth of ICT tenders in digital, data, and web services as well as the IT infrastructure to support its vision “Smart Nation”. Cloud computing, data analytics, and cyber security are all possible fields of work for skilled expats.
As you know, economies can change pretty quickly in this day and age. Major employers and strong sectors may quickly lose their influence. If you want to be sure that your profession and your skills are still in demand in Singapore, you can refer to the Labor Market Highlights in the Labor Market Guide.
If you are looking for specific information on which skills are sought after in your sector, you should refer to Strategic and Skills-in-Demand lists. These lists are a little more specific and regularly updated by the Ministry of Manpower.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.