In 20 December 2014, The Straits Times reported a bigger pay rise was to be expected in 2015 due to a high demand for labour and a tight supply of foreign manpower. Following that, conducted a survey on bonuses and pay increments in January 2015 to unravel the sentiments of workers in Singapore.

Out of 560 people surveyed, 87% of them were aged 21 to 50. 85% of the respondents were PMEBs and white collar workers from across a multitude of industries, mainly from Multinational Corporations (MNCs – 35%) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs – 32%).

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has been promoting lifelong learning and skills upgrading of the workforce in Singapore (under the Continuing Education and Training (CET) Masterplan) by making training courses more accessible. The Singapore Development Workforce Agency (WDA) has also put in place a scheme to fund up to 95% of the course fees for individual learners. While such efforts are put in place to boost a more employable labour force, about 89% of those interviewed do not think that their company would consider their initiative in attending training courses to increase their skills as a reason for giving them a higher pay.

“I had a colleague who studied for and received his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, yet the company didn’t consider increasing his salary,” said finance executive Vanessa Tan, 27, who works in an MNC.

However, although the majority doesn’t correlate training to pay increment, some still recognises that it helps them in their career indirectly.

“With a CPA license, I scored more job interviews and was able to ask for better terms, as compared to when I didn’t have one.  It has helped me open more doors,” said L S Lee, 43, an internal auditor and civil servant.

This gelled with the CET Masterplan, which aimed to “help workers find their niches, seize opportunities in new growth areas and remain relevant and employable”.

Aside from that, 6 in 10 respondents do not think that they will receive a biggerpay rise this year, although about half of them (51%) were positive about receiving a bonus or pay increment. Reasons cited include “My company did relatively well and I believe I will get something” and “My company did not do very well but they always recognise their employees’ contributions”.  Despite this, about half of the respondents (51%) plan to leave their company after receiving their bonus and/or pay increment because they “cannot stand being in this company any longer”, have received better job offers or intended to do something different.

When asked why they should receive a pay increment, 71% of the respondents named reasons such as “I am not badly paid but the cost of living in Singapore is too high” and “I played a big part in contributing to my company and deserve some recognition”. Even then, most of those surveyed expected that their company would realistically only give them an increment of between 1 to 5% (69%).

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