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marc_rich May 19th, 2004 05:38 PM

Singapore - how to take the plunge
Hi all,

This is a travel forum, but I was wondering if anyone has any advice re. moving to Singapore. I am a 20 year old adminsitrative employee (finance industry), but with no post-secondary education. I've been thinking about getting our of here and moving to Singapore for quite a while now and my recent trip to Thailand has reinforced the desire to relocate there.

Does anyone have any constructive feedback for someone in my situation? Would appreciate a response.



rhkkmk May 19th, 2004 05:42 PM

my only suggestions is that before you cut all ties where you are that you take a leave of absense and go there and try it on a non-tourist basis....visas and work papers are another just can't move someplace and work...

marc_rich May 19th, 2004 05:54 PM

Yes, thanks, I realize that, which is why I was wondering if there is some form of a visa status that will apply to my situation, as they usually favor university graduates and such.

Kathie May 19th, 2004 06:36 PM

My understanding of the laws in Singapore (and most places) is that you cannot simply go there, find a job and apply for a work permit. In order to get a work permit, you have to have a job offer in hand and the company will arrange the work papers for you. Start by checking with multi-national companies that have branches in Singapore. It is true that not having a univeraity degree will place you at a great disadvantage, especially in a place where the locals are so well educated.

marc_rich May 19th, 2004 06:41 PM

Thanks, guys.

Kathie - thanks, you've reconfirmed my suspicions. What a bummer!

Neil_Oz May 19th, 2004 11:47 PM

Marc, as you rightly suspect, this is not the best forum for such information. Have you talked to the Singapore government via their nearest embassy or consulate? Surely that should be your first step.

But think about the realities first. I imagine that Singapore is not too interested in adding to its highly-skilled and energetic workforce a foreigner who lacks demonstrable skills in short supply locally (and can you imagine a Chinese culture short on finance industry skills?) I don't mean to be unkind, but you have to be realistic here. I suspect that a 20-year-old office worker with no tertiary qualifications would be very close to the bottom of their wish list. My guess is that - at a minimum -you will need to attain marketable specialist work skills backed up by a relevant degree, work yourself into a valued position in a well-regarded multinational company with an office in Singapore and try to engineer a transfer. Obviously this will take a lot of time and a lot of application. If you can't make it in your home country, there's no reason why Singapore or anywhere else you'd like to try would be interested in you. The days when young men of modest accomplishments could make it big in far-flung colonies populated by impressionable natives are long gone, mate.

And why Singapore, anyway? Have you been there? Are you ethnically Chinese?

A tip: if you want to live and work in a foreign culture, enrol in a short course in English language teaching and get a job in China. OK, language schools there advertise that they want a degree, but really, the demand is insatiable. All you have to do is go in on a 3-month tourist visa, then find an employer who'll be happy to sponsor you for a working visa - not hard with a little homework. They'll even reimburse your air fares if you sign up for 12 months, and you don't need to be able to speak Chinese. You won't make a fortune (except by Chinese standards), you'll have a lot of fun, and you might just find the inspiration to embark on a whole new career. Think about it!

dgruzew May 20th, 2004 06:14 AM

Very Curious?? Why Singapore? Why not Japan? I agree with the other poster your best shot is Teaching english - you can do this in China, and sometimes Japan.

Alternativly - why not go back to college(your 20!!!)??? - enroll in a program that involves international studies or language - you will likey be able to travel abroad, and if foregn languge is your forte you will likely be able to find out more about working abroad.
China is a huge emerging marketplace and Chinese speakers will be needed in the future

JamesA May 20th, 2004 07:14 AM

Neil has spelled it all out, sorry to burst your bubble but your chances of getting work are not just close to zero they would be absolute zero. Only top specialists (mainly in fainance) get transferred by their bank or financial institution to Singapore.
It actually is sad that the chances of working in foreign countries are diminishing fast, except for getting the qualifications to teach and teaching somewhere like Japan, China or Korea the opportunities are very few, unless you are a 'real' specialist in some field that the other countries do not have.
20-30 years back it was a great deal easier, but these days very difficult.
In my travels I have come across people who have managed to spend time traveling the world and working in different places, but they could be Airline Pilots or maybe working on Oil tankers and the like.
Finance I think will burst too as a way of working overseas as it is fairly easy for countries to train people in such fields. Some of those lucky to travel the world get Degrees in fields that allow them to work across the world, geologists, anthropologists and the like.
Another field is Hospitality, hotel management training, but, again, in years gone by many 'foreigners' were employed in places such as Asia and Africa but again the number os getting fewer.
If you have some unique interest or even a keen 'hobby' it can lead to chances to travel and sometimes work. Perhaps training a sailboat crew could give opportunities, it can sometimes be a good idea to look back into your own interest and hobbies and see if you come up with something 'unique'.
In hindsight I wish 'I' had trained in some easy field that interested me, sitting in front of Computer screens and servers making a living is no fun at all, even in a far flung tropical paradise. I am still trying to persuade the wife that we get some shack of a bar somewhere!!!!

Wouldn't it be 'great' if one night everyone could actually 'move' to where they would love to live!

Good Luck Marc, if you want to let us know a few more of your interests I am sure many don't mind giving you some thoughts and maybe ideas.

marc_rich May 20th, 2004 11:52 AM

Thanks to all for the replies.

Singapore is next to impossible, I am convinced.

Why Singapore? Clean, safe, warm (very important to me, health-wise, I have a hard time going through cold weather), and a great hub to travel to other Asian countries. These are the main reasons. But yes, it's next to impossible.

Japan is a great idea, but I think they are even more hell-bent on tertiary education than Singaporeans. Also, weather-wise.

Just came back from Thailand and my skin was totally cured - I only spent a week there, but the tropics are doing magic for my skin.

I will look into the English teaching option in China and Japan though - that's certainly an idea.

Feel free to offer tips and experinces - the responses were helpful.

marc_rich May 20th, 2004 11:56 AM

I bet it's great to be an expatriate in an Asian country - I envy people who have that opportunity!

Shouldn't have dropped out of university!!!

We'll figure it, one way or the other.

dgruzew May 20th, 2004 12:25 PM

Go back to school - never to late

dsgtc0408 May 21st, 2004 03:54 AM

Here's an angle for you: what if you went to Singapore to pick up on those University courses you flunked - perhaps you can restart your schooling here?

Keep in mind that I am not talking about the "real" universities here (National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University or Singapore Management University), instead I am talking about institutions such as Singapore Institute of Management, Management Development Institute of Singapore, etc that represent foreign universities here. Check out their websites - they are actively looking for foreign students and are geared to take them in (although normally the students are Asians, not Caucasians)! While you are here you can figure out who might be worth working for, then look for a job once you have earned your degree. (In the past it was possible to arrive in Singapore as a tourist, look for a job, and if an employer was willing to hire the foreigner for an Employment Pass level position - NOT a work permit - Immigration would consider converting the applicant's visa status without the person having to leave Singapore for the visa to be processed in the applicant's home country. Whether or not Manpower Ministry has the same attitude I don't know.)

Note that on visas: non-employment visas are issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), while any type of employment visa would be issued by the Ministry of Manpower (just like a government to make things complicated).

For details on student passes, you need to check the Singapore Government website for ICA. For more info on whether or not a student on a student pass can legally work, check the website for Ministry of Manpower. This is also the place to check on the fine differences between an Employment Pass, 'S' Pass and Work Permit.

BTW: what's your nationality?

marc_rich May 21st, 2004 04:02 AM

Thanks, dsgtc0408. I will certainly look into the aforementioned schools.

I am Canadian.

JamesA May 21st, 2004 08:56 AM

Actually that's a real good idea, it depends if you/family have the funds.
You could also look at Webster's University and the Stamford University, they are both in Hua hin in Thailand ( a few hours south of Bangkok on the beach ), they are off-shoots of American Universites and apparently the Degrees are Valid in USA, so that way you get a Degree at the same time mixing with students from all over Asia and you can enjoy being in Thailand, just search for Websters University and Stamford University in Hua Hin Thailand. I don't think they would be 'too' costly as they get a lot of students from Sri Lanka and other regional countries. No harm in contacting them and see what they say.

orgy7 May 21st, 2004 08:34 PM

there is always a way.... trust me many forigners who work in thailand and asia don't have a collage degree. SO how can the get jobs teaching etc.

the answer is.. fake diplomas. which are sold in khoh San (sp) rd, bangkok..

I've never bought one but have read about many who have and one got a job in a korean teaching sckool with that fake piece of paper.

travaling and living somewhere are a whole diffrent animal.. everthing is great when your staying in a nice hotel with a fist full of money for 2 weeks., but living is living.

I have chosen too take the plung and stay in asia for a long while, but thank God I have financial help

a great way too find info on living in asia is just typing expat singapore into search engine.
there are dozons of expat sites for thailand since it is a hub for forigners who just said screw it too thier home country. I am one and can tell you it's not all roses my fraind...

getting an education in asia seems like a great idea..

the least you can do is spend a month or so in asia too get a better feel before going all the way.

marc_rich May 21st, 2004 10:06 PM

Orgy7: You're absolutely right - I loved Thailand, but I think it's a very challenging country to live in and takes some guts...that's why I am interested in Singapore; it just doesn't seem to be as much a challenge as other places - I think it's easier for a Westerner to settle in in a country like that (IMHO).

Fake diplomas make me feel uncomfortable...I am just too law-abiding for these kind of things.

Kathie May 22nd, 2004 07:25 AM

The fake diplomas wouldn't fool many people - especially someone hiring for a financial services job. The fake diplomas are mostly used by people without the appropriate education or certification to teach English in poor countries. I find that very sad, as the people who really get cheated are the children or adults paying to learn English.

Marky_from_Oz May 22nd, 2004 02:25 PM

There is a Singapore branch of the French (but internationally recognized) Business School INSEAD. However, I cannot imagine that it is cheap! Living in Asia is a challenge,but that's part of the fun!

Good luck to you.

marc_rich May 22nd, 2004 04:00 PM

Fake diplomas sound dubious.

Marky_from_Oz: thanks, I am sure it's a challenge, but it's worth it, hopefully.

Neil_Oz May 22nd, 2004 07:44 PM

Kathie - as I'm sure you'd agree, unfortunately a college diploma is not a reliable indicator that its owner has either a talent for teaching or for that matter a good grasp of the English language. I've spent too many wasted hours correcting the atrocious, in some cases incomprehensible, English of some of my graduate staff. (You may well ask how they got that piece of paper in the first place. I'd like to know too.)

An English language teaching certificate such as the Cambridge CELTA qualification (an intensive 4-week course) is another matter.

So I'm not convinced that Asian students are necessarily short-changed if their teacher doesn't have a degree. My understanding is that they'll usually fare worse if they learn from local teachers who themselves often have only the most tenuous grasp of English.

Of course a degree, all else being equal, has value, and a degree + teaching certificate is ideal. But I think the problem facing China in particular is that the demand for English teachers is so insatiable that a reasonable teacher minus degree is much better than no teacher at all - and may even turn out to be a better teacher than some graduates.

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