Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IT Professionals in Singapore do not look happy

They perceive their job as low paying and many of them face work-life-balance problems. The stress created by their job affects their ability to perform other roles in their lives. 23 per cent are eyeing to leave their profession completely and start a fresh new career. These are the findings of a survey recently conducted by by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) among 1,024 IT professionals and 692 students. Half of the respondents face more work-life balance problems in their profession. This number is higher compared to other professions.

Top 27 per cent of IT professionals are earning above 100,000 SGD per annum, good amount amount, but the percentage of 100K+ earners are much lower than many other professions like Financial Services, Banking, Law, etc.

I find it not surprising as an IT professional working in Singapore. But I am actually quite suprised that the percentage of them willing to leave the profession is just 23. I am one of them and I thought the percentage was much higher. I would also add that the profession has relatively low prestige. Yes, there is no prestige of being an IT professional. Than it is not surprising to see that new entrants and young workers have more desire to leave it.

Except the IT professionals in Singapore’s financial services industry, which are only 8 per cent of total respondents, salaries are really low compared to the work load. I remember a young IT executive asking an experienced IT executive for 3 reasons to abandon IT completely (the senior one previously told him to run to exit before it is too late). The reply was simple:

1) H1B
2) IT Outsourcing to sub continent
3) Low salaries

The above conversation was in US but it is also more or less true for Singapore. A high immigrant IT workforce depresses the salaries. Also unique to us is the virtual age limit. You can see many IT Engineers in their 40s or 50s in Europe or USA but it is hard to come by in Singapore. An experienced IT Engineer, who cannot jump out of technical stuff before he is 40, will be in high risk. If he loses his job, it is difficult to find a new one. Many IT professionals know this and want to abandon IT before it is too late.

Mr. Chew from SCS points our attention to a “positive” note; more students are joining smaller companies like start-up. But in the survey, small and medium sized local organizations and start-ups had the worst satisfaction level among IT professionals. As a senior IT professional, I strongly suggest new IT professionals to think carefully before joining a small company and chose a larger corporation over a small one at the beginning of their career. Small companies, especially start-ups, may look very appealing for youngsters but they usually skip the fact that for every Google, there are hundreds of failed ventures. Many of the start-up companies are mismanaged, especially the ones which are small for a long time, are almost always mismanaged. And a very good product means absolutely "nothing" if there is no sound business built around (opposite is also true. A ridiculously primitive product can be a hit if there is a very good business model around). Do not get lured into product. Select a company wisely as if you are an investor putting money in it. Most of the time, larger companies are better for new graduates to start since they offer more training, mentoring and clear job specifications at a given time (unlike smaller ones where you are expected to do everything at a given time). In my opinion, small companies are for people who have some experience and better evaluate the company and product.

IT is not surprising then to see a shortfall of professionals in IT where salaries and life quality offered by during the job are both perceived to be low.     

No comments:

Post a Comment