New Manpower Minister reiterates PM’s comments about less grads

by Hannah Norton07 May 2015
Singapore’s new Manpower Minister has identified the Government’s continuing education initiative as a “second ladder” option to the first ladder of university study.

Speaking on television show Talking Point last night, Lim Swee Say also said it was proving to be a “real challenge” changing the mindsets of Singapore employers about the need to have academic qualifications.

“Yes, academic qualification is one ladder. What we’re trying to do is have a second ladder, known as the CET, the Continuing Education and Training initiative.”

His comments coincide with the current campaign of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is trying to convince the nation’s younger generation they don’t need to study at university level to have a good career.

In his May Day message, Lee said as a society, Singapore need to be more supportive and open-minded.

“We should not measure people by their paper qualifications, but by their skills and contributions.”

Lee graduated from Cambridge University in England with top honours.

Lim echoed these sentiments during his television appearance last night.

“We need to shift the mindset not just among the workers but more importantly, on the part of the employers, and I think that’s what we’re doing on the SkillsFuture initiative – getting the government, employers and unions to come together and to say ‘Yes, these are the kind of skills we need in the future’.”

During Lim’s appearance on the television show he took questions from panel guests and callers, one of whom was Madam Zubaidah, who is continuing her education with the help of the SkillsFuture Credit programme.

“There are challenges in the workforce. If I don’t have a degree, my salary will be capped at S$2,000, so that’s a challenge,” she said to Lim last night.

Lim responded by saying it has never been more crucial for workers to seek an upgrade to their skills amid a glut of degree-holders, uncertainty among PMETs, movements between job sectors, greater computerisation, and the restructuring of various industries.

“For example, we hope the day will come that a person like yourself has two options – either you go back to school to get your degree or you continue working while continuing with industry-based training.

“But most importantly, your CET must be recognised by the industry and by the employers, so that in time to come, you don’t have to pursue a degree just because you need a degree qualification. But rather, employers should look at you based on your skills and expertise.”

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