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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Unemployment among Degree Holders

Notice Paper No. 306 of 2014 For The Sitting On 07 October 2014 Question No. 272 For Written Answer

MP: Mr Yee Jenn Jong

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry has analysed the reasons for (i) unemployment rates among residents with degrees being higher than those of other educational levels; (ii) the high number of economically inactive degree holders below the age of 30; and (iii) the large increase in the number of economically inactive degree holders over the last decade.


  1. On an annual basis from 2008 to 2013, the unemployment rate of resident degree holders has remained low and relatively stable at an average of 2.9%, and is amongst the lowest across all educational groups in this period.
  2. From quarter to quarter, it is not uncommon for the unemployment rate for resident degree holders to fluctuate. It is typically higher in June each year due to seasonal factors such as the new graduating cohort entering the labour force. This trend is reflected in the recent increase from 2.5% in March 2014 to 3.9%p in June 2014.
  3. Over the last decade, the proportion of degree holders in the resident population has increased substantially – from 14.4% in 2003 to 23.9% in 2013. Notwithstanding this surge, the proportion of degree holders who were economically inactive only increased marginally from 10.5% in June 2003 to 11.9% in June 2013. This is significantly lower than the 33.3% of economically inactives in the overall resident population.
  4. The proportion of resident degree holders under the age of 30 who were economically inactive in 2013 is the lowest across all educational groups, at 10.6%. For this group, further education and training as well as childcare (for female residents) were the most commonly cited reasons for being out of the workforce.
  5. MOM will continue to monitor the economic activity status of degree holders closely. We will continue in our efforts with tripartite partners to ensure that all residents, including degree holders, have good access to quality jobs, career development and progression pathways.

p: Provisional