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    Updated on Monday, April 8, 2002 11:21 PM

Employers okay both local and foreign grads

From: The Straits Times Interactive, Singapore

WHEN it comes to hiring a graduate for a job, it makes no difference to employers whether they studied here or at a foreign university.
Three in four of the 214 companies which responded to a Straits Times survey said they have no preference when it comes to employing local or overseas graduates. The rest would rather opt for someone who studied in Singapore.

But employers do see clear differences between the two kinds of graduates.
About three in five found overseas graduates to be more independent.
About half of those polled said that those who studied abroad are also more creative, self-assured and street smart.

But most rated both sorts of graduates on par when it comes to level of intelligence and the ability to put their shoulder to the wheel.

Mr Ow Seng Fong, staffing manager of Agilent Technologies, a maker of test and measurement equipment, believes that those educated abroad are more independent because they lived on their own while they were overseas.

They might also be more creative, he added, because of the more liberal education system in other countries.
But when both sorts of graduates get used to the working environment, the advantages that overseas graduates have no longer matter.

He added: 'And the differences between the two are disappearing. The new generation of local graduates are no longer conformists. Neither are they afraid to speak out.'
One in three employers noted that local graduates have higher expectations when it comes to pay.
Miss Elsie Yong, a human resource manager at Addvalue Technologies, a product development company, believes that this is because some people think it is more difficult to get into local universities than other overseas universities.

She explained: 'So local graduates generally think they are better and thus think they are worth higher pay.'
But some feel that overseas graduates have the better deal.
Mr Jeremy Choy, a 26-year-old research officer, said: 'I've got two friends who joined a bank at the same time, with the same credentials. But the one who studied abroad was paid almost $1,000 more.'
However, both kinds of graduates are not blind to the differences between them.

Accounts manager Alice Lim, 29, who graduated from the National University of Singapore, said: 'The overseas graduates are able to think out of the box.
'Local graduates can think out of the box too. It's just that we are too concerned with whether we are allowed to do so.' --Jane Lee

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