The alternative news in 1 day? (part 24) – Polytechnic graduates’ pay dropped 5%?

I refer to the article “Fresh polytechnic graduates draw higher starting salaries in 2013: Survey” (Straits Times, Jan 10).

2.6% increase in starting pay?

It states that “Fresh graduates from the five local polytechnics have seen a slight increase in their starting salaries in 2013, compared to the year before. Their median gross monthly salary was $2,000, a 2.6 per cent increase from $1,950 in 2012.”

Since inflation in November was 2.6 per cent year-on-year – inflation for the whole year of 2013 may be around 2.6 per cent or higher.

Yet another year of negative real salary growth?

If this happens, does it mean that we may have yet another year of near zero or negative real wage growth?

Post-NS graduates even worse off at minus 2.5%?

As to “Post-national service graduates in full-time permanent employment had a median gross monthly salary of $2,250, comparable to the $2,253 in 2012″ – does it mean that real wage growth for post-NS graduates may even be worse, at around minus 2.5 per cent or more?

In this connection, the data from the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Graduate Starting Salary Table(s) tell a very different story from the article.

Real starting pay dropped 5% in 5 years?

The median monthly gross starting salary of polytechnic fresh graduates in full-time employment increased from $1,800 to $2,000, from 2008 to 2013.

This is an increase of about 11 per cent over the 5 years, or about 2.1 per cent per annum.

Since inflation was about 13.8 per cent from 2008 (CPI 99.4) to 2012 (CPI 113.1) – and if we assume inflation for the whole year of 2013 is 2.6 per cent – does it mean that in real terms – salaries may have dropped by about 5 per cent over the 5 years or about minus 1 per cent per annum?

Only 6 in 1o can get full-time jobs?

With regard to “The results showed that graduates’ employment rate dipped slightly. For fresh graduates, the overall employment rate last year was 89.8 per cent, down from 91 per cent in 2012. For post-NS graduates, the figure was 92.8 per cent, a drop from 93.1 per cent in 2012″ – What the media report appears to not mention is that only 62.7 per cent of those surveyed were in full-time permanent employment, down from 65.4 per cent in 2012.

This is a further decline from the 67, 68.5 and 75.3 per cent in 2011, 2010 and 2007, respectively..

Does this mean that only about 6 in 10 graduates were able to find full-time permanent employment?

Tertiary education not important?

With the statistics seemingly getting worse by the year, is it any wonder why there have been so many recent remarks that a tertiary education may not be so important in Singapore anymore?

To what extent has our liberal foreign labour policies contributed to this pathetic state of affairs?

If we are really curtailing the influx of foreign workers – why do the statistics continue to get worse?

Leong Sze Hian

Leong is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, has authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been host of a money radio show, a daily newspaper column, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for Malaysiakini, executive producer of the movie Ilo Ilo (26 international awards). He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors and 13 professional qualifications. He blogs at

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