Less students keen to take up engineering courses in universities?


7 May 2014

Less students keen to take up engineering courses in universities?

By SY Lee and Leong Sze Hian

BCC grade admitted to engineering?

Our “university insider” alerted us to the fact that according to National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Indicative Grade Profile (IGP) – the 10th percentile of students admitted in most of the engineering courses has deteriorated to grades of BCC or lower.

Ten years ago, engineering courses have been the top choice of students as engineering graduates command considerably high pay among the fresh graduates and the ease of finding a job. If a student has grades of BCC or lower back then, even applying for the course is out of question.

2009 $2,900
2010 $3,000
2011 $3,100
2012 $3,100
2013 $3,200

The above table shows the median starting wages obtained from the graduate survey results for the electrical engineering course in NUS. (Ministry of Education, Graduate Employment Survey 2009 – 2013). Though it seems that the wages have been increasing over the years but in real terms, the starting salary decreased by about 5%, as inflation from 2009 to 2013 was about 16%.

Competition from foreign engineers?

The primary reason for this may be due to the influx of foreign engineers who may be willing to work for lower pay.

Last year, an engineer* from an ASEAN country working under a work permit said that after all the deductions – his monthly take home pay was only about $900.

In an ASEAN country – there have been advertisements recruiting engineers to work in Singapore at a salary of about $1,500.

From the grapevine – preference may be given to employ fresh engineering graduates, but mid-career engineers may be having a very hard time getting a reasonable paying job.

Engineers’ salaries historically?

For example, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) wages benchmarking tool – the median basic pay for mechanical engineer, assistant engineer (mechanical) and mechanical engineering technician – are $3,850, $2,500 and $2,250.

As the median is half of the workers in the occupation category – does it mean that that there may be quite a lot of engineers, who may be working for lower pay?

If anyone who reads this article is an engineer or knows about the employments issues that may be affecting the engineering profession – Please write to us to share your experience, we will only cite your last name in any article we write about this issue.


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.