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Engineering and Technology Careers are Not Valued - Singapore is "High Cost Low Tech"

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Old 24-05-2008, 12:23 PM
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Default Engineering and Technology Careers are Not Valued - Singapore is "High Cost Low Tech"

Among news like a monk and an infidel GP doctor making six-figure income, there's an interesting piece in ST two days ago - ex-top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow worries that Singapore is becoming "high cost, low tech".
Quote:
"The United States has overtaken Britain because while some of their best went to Wall Street, their best still go into engineering."
His concern is valid.

In Singapore, the best JC students are attracted by glitzy ads and employment survey reports (see example) glamorizing the banking and finance industry and repeatedly highlighting that top dollars are made there.

For engineers and techies, they only get to hear things like "with a basic degree, you get to wash test tubes".

Or that engineering and tech talent are a dime a dozen from China and India.

It is no wonder that students die to get into the in-demand courses like business, finance and accounting, while engineering and technology-related courses are dumping grounds.

See my previous posts on getting out of engineering and dead end career.

We all know that techies are undervalued in sunny Singapore. You're a techie, you make 5k and be happy. Stay happy. Else get out and go to countries like USA, Japan, or even China and Taiwan where tech talent are much more highly valued than over here. Or, get into banking or do a sales job.

So Mr Ngiam worries about the lack of local high-tech talent.

There's always a simple solution (right?): Start paying top dollars for engineers.

Start with tech-related ministries and agencies like Mindef and MDA. Then, move to tech-related GLCs like Singapore Technologies and JTC.

Pay millions for, say, the Chief Innovator in DSTA and ask the media to cover this ad nauseum (much like the way life sciences were glamorized in the not too distant past).

Hopefully we get to confuse the students again.

http://www.salary.sg/2008/engineerin...cost-low-tech/

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Old 24-05-2008, 12:52 PM
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Default 1729

Ya meh? The techies I know & work with are paid quite a lot leh. 10k+ is quite common. Our juniors are earning like 7k already... not including bonuses.

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Old 24-05-2008, 01:13 PM
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@Howcome, which tech companies pay 7k for freshies?

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Old 24-05-2008, 01:22 PM
Howcome---
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Default 1732

Sorry, by juniors I mean those with about 5-7 yrs lah. Not fresh grads. I'm not that young
And to be fair, let me qualify it further: techies in foreign banks. The highest fresh grad *techie* pay I heard in the banks circle is 5.5k.
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Old 24-05-2008, 05:18 PM
Ex-engineer---
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Default 1733

Yes techies in banks. But if you are a non-techie in bank you probably earn twice to thrice as much.
Personally,I used to be an engineer, and for the same reasons of low pay I left for the finance sector. Now I earn 4-5x more than I used too as an engineer. It's just a very tough and unrewarding life to be an engineer unless you discover some groundbreaking technology.. for a finance guy, you just do simple maths, charge high commissions and rake in the $$.
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Old 24-05-2008, 06:37 PM
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@Howcome, ah... so it's still the banking & finance industry. duh.
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Old 24-05-2008, 06:51 PM
Howcome---
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Default 1735

But it's *techies* of banking and finance industry, see. The topic is that techies in singapore are unappreciated and underrewarded, right? And that like Ex-engineer, they are leaving engineering in droves to the NON-TECHNICAL part of banking and finance industry. There's a difference like Ex-engineer said!
My point is that it's still possible to be a techie and not happy with just 5k/month but much more.
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Old 24-05-2008, 06:55 PM
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Default 1736

@Ex-engineer, if you don't mind--what do you do exactly? Was it tough to switch? 4-5x more--does it mean you've broken the 200k pa mark? I suspect I'm probably near the glass ceiling for techies. Gotta plan for the next 5 years or so...
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:25 PM
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There are many qualified Filipino engineers and Indian IT programmers working in Singapore. Their pay is average $3k to $6k. They are very happy. Because they work 10 years can go home buy land, build house and live happily ever after. Companies don't need to increase pay to $10k. Because when pay is only $5k many foreigners happily snap up already. Blame the government if you want. Ha.
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Old 25-05-2008, 12:28 AM
Ex-engineer---
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I would think it's tough to change considering most of my peers tried but didn't manage to do so. I was one of the lucky ones.. but if you try hard enough I am sure it's possible. I was an engineer for only 2 years though.. so that might have made it easier. I trade for a living nowadays.
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