One in Three Degree Holders are Business & Admin Graduates


According to the just released Report on Labour Force in Singapore 2010, 32.2% of degree holders in the resident labour force are graduates in Business and Administration.

This is up from 31.9% last year.

In contrast, the other common fields of study all saw a decrease – Engineering Sciences from 23.9% last year down to 23.2% this year, Humanities & Social Sciences from 10.8% down to 10.6%, and Information Technology from 11.0% down to 10.2%.

This means more students are flocking to business-related courses and perhaps other less common courses.

The respective numbers for this year:

  1. Business & Administration – 181,900 (32.2%)
  2. Engineering Sciences – 131,100 (23.2%)
  3. Humanities & Social Sciences – 60,000 (10.6%)
  4. Information Technology – 57,900 (10.2%)
  5. Natural, Physical, Chemical & Mathematical Sciences – 34,100 (6.0%)
  6. Health Sciences – 28,200 (5.0%)
  7. Education – 17,100 (3.0%)
  8. Architecture & Building – 15,100 (2.7%)
  9. Mass Communication & Information Science – 12,600 (2.2%)
  10. Law – 11,800 (2.1%)
  11. Fine & Applied Arts – 10,100 (1.8%)
  12. Others – 5,500 (1.0%)

Compare the above with the rankings by employability and monthly salaries for the various courses in our 3 universities.


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  1. Maybe many banks here need more bizad grads? Bankers make millions and everyone wants to be a banker. Just move money around. How easy.

    (I wonder what will happen if everyone in this world just sit around moving money, trading stocks, etc)

  2. To Maybe:
    Do u have any experience ‘moving money around?’ I doubt so because if you did you would know its not easy. If its child’s play they wont be paid so highly. Theres no free lunch or easy money in this world.

  3. My point is that we also need good people in the industries to produce tangible goods.

    Heard of the story of some people stranded on an island? On that island, 1 person became a farmer while the rest became traders trading and speculating on the crops using charts and such (and arguing how important their job is in terms of allowing for price discovery, and making the market more efficient and such). How absurd!

    I think the real world is also becoming like the island. If current trends continue, we will soon have 1 farmer to 10 traders. It will be fun.

  4. Singapore’s market will not be able to sustain so many Business grads. Many of them are not going to end up in decent paying jobs.

    It’s really simple. Just supply and demand logic. More Business grads in the market and employers can pick-and-choose and of course will be able to depress wages.

    Just like what happened to Engineering degree holders.

  5. @ Maybe: Agree!!
    Singapore is trying hard to emulate London and HK with their big paper-pushing financial centres… The UK is in a big mess because it is not producing anything tangible anymore and HK has the advantage of being close to China.
    Singapore should not forget how to design & produce real goods and innovations instead of becoming a nation of bankers & accountants.

  6. Generalist degrees like those in business and admin are fine if there are enough “management” positions. But who’s going to do the work that needs professional and specialist skills and knowledge? Outsource to other countries and import more foreign talent? haha…

    On the other hand, “management” work is soooo simple! Even duds can do well in management.

    Ok seriously, look at the successful towkays and people like Wee Cho Yaw – do they have a business degree? You don’t need to be educated in business to do well in business. What you need are common sense or “business acumen”, guts, and opportunities.

    OTOH, specialist knowledge requires time, money, experience and good teachers. Try learning applied calculus on your own.

    Coming back, for any economy to function well, we need both generalists and specialists in the right proportions. And I agree that there are too many business graduates.

  7. sg is now moving to service economy eg banking, property, leisure, etc.

    technical specialists eg engineers are rubbish.

    business graduates are needed for the positions in these sectors. what is needed is for these business grads to upgrade & specialise in these areas.

  8. The demand for engineers in Singapore has never taken off. If you want to be an engineer here, its all about passion and not for the money.

    For one engineer in the US or Australia, a company can hire two engineers in Singapore and 4-5 engineers in India. Engineers in Singapore are just not in demand or respected enough to be well paid thats why most of the local engineers work in banks as analyst or bankers. Simply for the money.

    But think about it, who designs the aircrafts you fly in? Or the iphone you’re using… The engineers are the one doing those. They have the brains to do that. But whos earning the most outta it? The people in sales. Says it all doesn’t it?

  9. Does engineering sales earn alot? Maybe only for big ticket item sales in oil/gas, plastic/chemical industry.
    My friends in semiconductor and electronics component are still earning only marginal higher than a non sales engineer

  10. The problem is: most engineering jobs can be outsourced easily in today’s globalized economy. If you want to earn big buck, try to do something that cannot be outsourced, like running your own business i.e. be your own boss.

  11. it’s quite hard to be your own boss these days. with huge debts like housing loan and car loan, you will want to have a stable job to keep paying for the loans. risk of losing your job is pretty low these days, so who will want to risk a stable livelihood for a long shot on being “financially independent” by doing business? it’s pretty clear which option most people would choose. and that’s why you don’t see many entrepreneurs.

  12. @boss2b

    “risk of losing your job is pretty low these days…”

    You are damn wrong. Now with the influx of foreigners from all over Asia, the risk of losing one’s job has become greater than before.

    Bosses have the OPTION to fire and easily hire someone. It’s an EMPLOYER’S MARKET now.

  13. someone questioned what if everyone is doing finance, and was rebutted with a “what do you know”.

    watch paul wilmott (“smartest” quant in the world) in this video at 23m 50s:

    “banking has completely lost touch with its original purpose. it’s now becoming dangerous. when these derivatives were first invented, they were to help farmers (for example) hedge the value of his crops. he wasn’t speculating on the price of wheat, he’s busy growing it. now, there are more people trading these commodity derivatives, than involved in the production of the commodity, which is completely bizarre … i know quite a lot of people in this business who are feeling a bit jaded. people are starting to ask questions … my nice friends have started to ask questions about their role in society. you may be making lots of money, but is it something to tell your grandchildren … what are they doing with their lives, are they just moving this money around. this isn’t necessarily a business to be proud of.”

    moving money around…

  14. well, moving money around is better than losing money around, which sone ppl in sg are getting paid for doing. what is more out of touch ?

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