SINGAPORE – Mr Fazirul Hanafe was in his last year of studies at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in November 2021 when he landed a job as a software engineer at social networking company Meta.

In fact, it was one of four job offers on his plate by the time he ended school.

The 26-year-old graduate, who has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in computer science, said: “Once I got the offer from Meta, I stopped looking for other jobs… I felt that working at a large multinational corporation like Meta would give me exciting and challenging projects I could work on for my own growth.”

The recent job cuts in the tech sector in the second half of 2022 have been unnerving for fresh tech graduates like Mr Fazirul. More than 50 employees in Singapore are said to have been laid off by Meta as at November 2022.

“The possibility of being laid off three months into my first job is definitely worrying… From what I’ve seen, those who were laid off were not lacking in skills. It looked random,” said Mr Fazirul.

“But I see now that they have new jobs… It’s a competitive job market but I’m sure that the general tech sector is still hiring and these skills are still in demand.”

This was borne out by the latest graduate employment statistics released by four autonomous universities on Monday. Fresh graduates of information and digital technologies courses commanded the highest starting pay among their peers at $5,625 in 2022, up from $5,000 in 2021.

The overall median monthly gross starting pay of graduates across different sectors was $4,200 in 2022.

The poll by the National University of Singapore, NTU, Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Social Sciences also found that degree courses in information and digital technologies had the highest proportion of graduates in full-time, permanent work at 93.5 per cent, compared with the overall rate of 87.5 per cent.

Observers said tech graduates are still in demand despite the job losses in the sector.

Mr Paul Heng, managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said: “It’s likely that these fresh graduates were recruited during the annual career fairs that companies like to organise pre-graduation. We also need to take into consideration that companies that are firing might also be hiring – there are different job grades and type of jobs.

“Job seekers would not want to give Google, for example, a wide berth although they have been firing.”

CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun said: “The media highlights the job cuts, but what we fail to realise is that this is taking place concurrently with other companies hiring… Overall, more businesses are still looking to hire than to fire.

“Tech is also not limited to the tech sector. It’s ingrained in almost every modern business and across industries, from financial services and start-up space to aerospace, healthcare and travel.”

The recent job losses are part of a “normalising” of demand for services by certain tech firms which had aggressively hired during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

“Tech skills are still in demand… It’s not the frenzy we saw in the pandemic, when these companies ramped up services, but there are jobs still out there.”


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