Saturday, April 20, 2013

Better To Be An Academically Uninclined Female In Singapore?

Jack and Jane were the best of friends in secondary school. Jack had always been the smarter guy who scored all As for his exams while Jane would be struggling to get just a B grade. Jack scored 8 points for O'Levels while Jane scored 20. As expected, Jack got into a top junior college while Jane enrolled at a polytechnic. Few years later, Jack achieved distinctions for his A'level exams and got accepted into a local university while Jane managed to earn her diploma and enrolled to a part-time private university programme. 

Fast forward a few years, Jack finally graduated from the local university and began looking for a job. He secured a job interview and when he arrived at the office in a tailored suit , he saw Jane. Jane was one of the interviewers. What happened?

It is proven time and time again that academic performance does not always guarantee career success. All things being equal, is the light at the end of the tunnel brighter for an academically uninclined female in Singapore? Females in Singapore have a 2 year advantage over guys who served NS. In addition to the shorter duration of a private university course compared to a local university's, private universities also offer part time degree courses, allowing students to take up a full time job in the day and gain valuable working experience while beefing up his/her resume. 

The timelines below show a clearer view of the opportunity costs of serving National Service and taking up a full time university programme :

JC To Full-Time Local University Route
Female
Male - Jack
Age 12
PSLE
PSLE
Age 16
O'Level
O'Level
Age 18
A'Level
A'Level
Age 19
Start of University Year 1 (June)
Army
Age 20
Start of University Year 2
Army
Age 21
Start of University Year 3
Start of University Year 1 (June)
Age 22
Start of University Year 4
Start of University Year 2
Age 23
End of University Year 4 (June)
Start of University Year 3
Age 24
First year of work @ $33600/year
Start of University Year 4
Age 25
2nd year of work @ $36000/year
End of University Year 4 (June)
Total Salary earned by age 25
$69,600.00
$0.00
Amt saved @ 20% savings rate
$13,920.00
$0.00



Diploma to Part-Time Private University Route
Female - Jane
Male
Age 12
PSLE
PSLE
Age 16
O'Level
O'Level
Age 18
Polytechnic 2nd year
Polytechnic 2nd year
Age 19
Earned diploma
Earned diploma
Age 20
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $26400/year
Army
Age 21
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $27720/year
Army
Age 22
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $29106/year
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $26400/year
Age 23
Full time work @ $31200/year
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $27720/year
Age 24
Full time work @ $32760/year
Part Time Degree + Full Time Work @ $29106/year
Age 25
Full Time work @ $34398/year
Full time work @ $31200/year
Total Salary earned by age 25
$181,584.00
$31,200.00
Amt saved @ 20% savings rate
$36,317.00
$6,240.00

Assumptions have to be made as there are too many variations. As such, I came up with the following non-exhaustive list of assumptions for the tables above :
  • No part-time job and no money saved in the 2 years of army, 3 years of diploma and 4 years of  local university
  • No year-end bonus
  • Annual salary increment of 5%
  • Salary of full time job after diploma = $2200/month or $26400/year
  • Salary of full time job after part time private university = $2600/month or $31200/year
  • Salary of full time job after full time local university = $2800/month or $33600/year
  • Full time job is in private sector : Male with NS same pay as female of the same rank in the company 
  • Private University : 3 year course
  • Local University : 4 year course
  • Total tuition fees for Private & Local University assumed to be the same

In addition to the salary earned and amount saved, Jane has already accumulated 6 years of full-time working experience at the time when Jack graduated from a local university. When will Jack be able catch up?