Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The shift away from the university degree culture

If you've read the past few days news, you would have realised there are many articles on recommendations to give non graduates a better prospect to progress up their careers even without a degree. This was a cultural change in the way Singapore values its people. We know that in Singapore, if you have a diploma or lower, the career path is limited in a lot of industry. We also know that as non degree holders, the salary would be lesser for most people. This lead to a mindset in young Singaporeans to start a paper chase and study in University. In fact, look around you and you'll realise most of your friends have either got a degree or is studying for one either part time or full time.

The problem comes when many people just study for the sake of studying. There were some who found that they were not interested in the course that they were studying but graduated anyway. In the end, they had to work in a job which they do not like. Education is not about studying for the sake of getting the cert or to get good result. Education should be a place where people can learn and apply what they have learn to the real world. There are already a few recommendations put forward by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) committee to balance work and study commitments. I guess more will be announced later.

In today's news, i see a lot of initiatives from the public service to take the lead in this cultural shift. It was reported that there will be better career prospects for non graduates in the public service. One of the changes is enable non graduates to be promoted to graduate posts faster and more graduates and non graduates schemes will be merged to allow both degree and non degree holders to progress in the same track. The Ministry of Education separately announced that outstanding non graduate teachers could get graduate pay. This would level the playing field and let people progress base on performance rather than a piece of paper. This creates an equal opportunity for everyone.

I hope the initiatives will indeed change the mindset of our society on education. Hopefully the private sector will follow suit after this. A degree doesn't mean you're better off and a diploma doesn't mean you're worse off. In the end, its how we apply the things we learn in school into the real world that's important. Even in investing its the same. You can be a finance graduate or know all the economics theory plus the financial calculations but still not able to invest on your own. You can be an accounting degree holder with honours but still not able to understand company annual reports to help you in your investment decisions. Education is useless without application. Let's see how it works out in the future.

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  1. Hi SGYI

    Its a fact that some jobs are more disliked by more people but pays rather well in return. It depends on the tradeoff if you hv family to feeds. Sometimes the job tht we like to do may not be able to get it the way we like. Just life. Its reality.

    1. Hi B,

      That's true. Sometimes we have passion for something but that passion doesn't feed you for your daily life. But then again, it's pointless to work in something you do not like just for the money. Life has no purpose like this.

  2. I recently went for a workshop and the presenter mentioned that students with masters but no work exp had a harder time finding jobs. I agree. The employer mindset is value for money. Unless u are willing to take less, having a master with no relevant job exp just make u seem more ex and less value

    1. Hi gagmewithaspoon,

      The presenter is right. Sometimes even degree without job experience is harder to find jobs now.

  3. i doubt it is going to make much different in our society or any "advanced" society.
    But there is always an exception to the rules to be successful in what you ever want to do though you may not have the papers to show it.
    As for in our little "RED DOT" context, there has been over-emphasize on the Scholars & Elites. Anyway GE is coming.

    1. Hi temperament,

      Its going to be difficult to change. I guess the government knows that too. Probably they have other motives for doing this which is not known to us too. Scholars and elites are being over emphasized but they are getting worse and worse reputation now. Doesn't go well with the general public.