Job hunting across the sea

National 4 minutes, 55 seconds


GOING overseas for employment among nationals of several Southeast Asian countries is not a new phenomenon.

Here in Brunei, as jobs in the sultanate continue to become limited, students are considering to join the diaspora to look for employment.

Siti Hajar Hj Khamis, an education officer at the Careers and Counselling Unit under the Ministry of Education (MoE), said the initiative to seek foreign employment could be a good step as the job market in Brunei was becoming limited.

Although the officer supports the initiatives by students, she said the students should seek for jobs in the sultanate first before looking for options in foreign countries. “It is okay to find opportunities outside of Brunei, but it is better for them to give back to the country, to find a job (in Brunei) that is available, not just government jobs, but also private sector jobs,” she said.

Gains from working overseas

Are Bruneian students’ thinking of joining the migration wave to seek employment in foreign shores?

The ministry said the number of students who have started working outside the country has yet to be released as statistics are still under collation. Siti Hajar also said the unit has not received any students seeking to find jobs abroad.

However, if students would come to the unit to seek assistance to look for overseas employment, the ministry would try its best to assist.

But, Siti Hajar believes that employment abroad has definite advantage such as transfer of knowledge. The gained experience and knowledge of an overseas worker can be turned into golden nuggets of wisdom by teaching them to their peers and younger generation. The transfer of skills gained while spending time abroad will then be the overseas workers’ contributions to the development of Brunei.

“After a few years of working abroad, they can bring (knowledge) to Brunei. To help give knowledge and skills to Brunei,” she said.

Job search abroad

Job hunt woes and worries are the primary reasons students are setting their sights to possibly land work across the seas.

However, above the students’ desire to work abroad is their wish to still stay and work in Brunei.

Nur Nadiah Syaza Hj Morni, a second year student at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) is one of the students willing to consider looking for jobs outside Brunei as she worries about being unable to find one here.

The 22-year-old cited the stiff competition among applicants as the primary reason for her worries. She stressed that now the chance of landing a job was more difficult as she would have to compete with those who have completed their degree in UBD and also with those coming back to the sultanate after finishing undergraduate course overseas.

“It doesn’t hurt to look for jobs in foreign countries since I believe Brunei can’t afford to give everyone jobs, I could end up getting a job outside of Brunei,” said Nur Nadiah, who is leaving for Singapore in September for her Discovery Year programme.

During her time in Singapore, the university student will be undergoing an internship with a Singaporean organisation. She is planning to use the programme as an opportunity to seek potential employment.

“I will focus on doing my internship, but if they do offer me a position in the future, I would gladly sit down and have a conversation with the company,” she said.

Nur Nadiah believes working in a foreign country is beneficial for her as she will be able to gain new knowledge, experience different working environments and learn about the different cultures.

Although she is open to foreign employment, Nur Nadiah said she would prioritise local jobs before proceeding to other countries.

Dk Nurul Raudah Pg Hj Saifuddin, another UBD student also used her Discovery Year programme to seek job opportunities in Vietnam as she worries over her future employment.

During her visit in August 2015, she said she has attended seminars that included talks by foreign companies in the country. She said it was a good step for her to take as it allowed her to network with various companies where she could apply if she is unable to land a job here.

The 21-year-old believes taking the initiative to seek foreign jobs is good as many people in the world do the same.

“If we look in Brunei, there are a lot of expatriates who are working in Brunei, and there is nothing wrong with that. We can take them as an example, to make us realise that our opportunities are not only limited to Brunei,” she said.

If she lands a job in a foreign country, she will still continue to contribute and assist her family by sending her earning, said Dk Nurul Raudah. “I strongly believe people working abroad can also contribute to the country. For instance, they can come back to Brunei and become entrepreneurs from their earnings,” she said.

To date, the final year student is interested to possibly work in Vietnam but said she would focus on landing a local job first before pursuing foreign employment.

Tengku Md Syahreen Tengku Zainal, a second year student in UBD, will also go to Vietnam in August for his Discovery Year programme. He also plans to use the programme to explore available potential foreign careers.

The 23-year-old said the number of unemployed people in the sultanate and facing the same fate was the primary motivation to seek foreign employment.

He said that one of the reasons why graduates struggle to find a job was due to lack of work experience. He believes that having work experience from a foreign country will assist him in his future career in Brunei, and in turn will help him contribute to sultanate’s development.

“I could use the opportunity to explore what the foreign employment has to offer, and may take it if it benefits me,” he said.

The Brunei Times