Monday, December 05, 2011

Waste of resources

I observe that many students spend a few years in polytechnic and university to take up an engineering, IT or other courses, but work in other occupations after graduating. It is a big waste of resources. Why can't they enrol for the course that they will finally work in?

Our economy needs people in transport, so they should learn how to drive and where the roads are, for example. The other occupations in demand are in the service and food industry. These can be meaningful occupations - provided that they get adequate pay (and are not depressed by the use of foreign workers).

Share your views.


Singapore's 5 Minute Investment Diary said...

Spend the money upfront on good & competent career counselors in secondary schools. Pay these counselors well.

This will fix the problem at the source.

For the brain dead money-faced politicians who will protest;
the cost savings will happen at the university level with young people graduating in the field that they want to work in.

hyom said...

Hi Mr Tan,

Being an engineer, this is a topic close to my heart. In recent years, it was common to see engineering/IT graduates go straight to work in the banks(or some financial services firm) without ever working a single day in their field of training.

While it is frustrating to see such wastage, I think the students made a rational choice. The starting salary of some of the students who join banks can beat that of a senior engineer with 10 years of experience. When the salary gap is so huge, it is quite stupid for the students not to take advantage of it.

Being an engineer, one sometimes feel insulted when the market value my kind of people so cheaply even as we churn out electronic products which are cheaper, better and faster year after year which improves people's quality of life. Goldman Sachs' CEO, Lloyd Blanfein, says he is doing God's work. I think the engineers are closer to doing God's work than him. Unfortunately, God disagrees with me based on how well rewarded the Wall-Street types were and how protected they were even when they screwed up big-time in the financial crisis of 2008 while people of my kind are losing our jobs.

If students approach me whether or not to study engineering, I will advise them to do it because it is a good training of the mind. Engineers are good practical problem-solvers because the machine simply will not work if the design is flawed. No amount of politicking or blowing of hot air can get an engineering work done. However, I am not sure the student would be encouraged to work as an engineer if they saw what happened to some of us despite years of hard work and even being competent at our jobs. I have just been retrenched from my job as an engineer. Hardly an inspirational case.

Xianlong said...

How wise can poly & uni students before selecting their courses? Majority have no clear idea of their strengths & weakness. I know because i have experienced it myself. Then after finishing the course, the industry would have changed. In the 90s the hype is electronics, then biotech. What happen to those now? Blindly following what the mass media promotes is a dangerous path.

U said need people in transport. Later when vehicles can auto drive won't the drivers be out of work as drivers?

Singapore's 5 Minute Investment Diary said...

Dear hyom
I graduated as an engineer. Even worked as an engineer for 3 years.

I got smart when I realized:

There is a Director of Finance
There is a Director of Human Resources
There is a Managing Director.
There are independent Directors.

There is almost never a Director of Engineering.

Parka said...

If you study engineering and can only take up engineering jobs in the future, that's limiting.

The question should not be around wasting of resources. It should be around people being adaptable — being able to adapt and take up jobs they like, and not be limited what they studied.

You want to know what's waste of resources? That's the two years you have to spend in JC learning about stuff you'll never use in life, except for the languages.

veronika said...

There is a mismatch.

Some sectors of government focused on getting Singapore on the world map of research & development in bio-tech,genetics. It is a news making area and very sexy to be associated with.This is a pet pursuit for some.

Another area of government focused on getting as much value out of land and property. It is their main KPI. As long as this sector was able to generate money, there will be a trickle down effect on the rest of the economy: more ancillary services like lawyers, property agents, insurance, construction, roads, mortage finance and furniture.

Business will therefore require people to work and the economy will move along as planned.

A misplaced belief.

Business found out that it would be more cost effective to employ people from other lands. After all, these people were eager to work, cheaper and would be easier to let go when things slowed. No residual issues.

A local polytechnic graduate had to go into national service ( males)cost more ( CPF etc) maternity leave ( females) and lacked the experience that the overseas source could offer.

Local employers favoured foreign workers to mitigate the high cost of rentals or land costs ( which is the KPI of one Government agency)

Because of this, local business and even MNCs have absolutely no incentive to hire locals or even to embrace technology to reduce costs.. an imported foreign worker will still be cheaper, more flexible and higly reactive to global events.

My son graduated from polytechnic and has decided a career in armoured division. It is where he can develop his craft and his interest.

He will probably die in vain defending fabrication plants in Woodlands. But I know he practiced what he enjoys most.. engineering.

I did not vote for the PAP.

ywk said...

Hi Soodo,

Haha. You had foresight. What are you doing now?

Hi Xianlong,

Good blog that you have. I have to get more tips from you to practise frugal living from now on, although I am already quite frugal. Our character has much in common. I have bookmarked your blog.

Electronics was at least able to generate enough jobs to absorb the students after they finished their
course. Far worse were the students who studied life sciences. This industry generated only a few high-paying jobs and many students could not find jobs after graduation. Rather than following the government's call, students should have analyzed their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, then choose a course of study suitable for their natural talent and passion.

Zi Rong said...

My guess is that engineering is a dead end job in Singapore. The government import foreigners to suppress the wages of such jobs. I think we can just compare the average salary of engineers in Singapore with Australia and USA.

Even for senior engineers, they will move on to become sales engineer, where they will make more money.

Tan Kin Lian said...

I met several poly students who now pursue an I.T. diploma. They told me that they do not like I.T. work, but enrolled there because they are not able to qualify for the other courses.

It seemed to be quite wasteful to spend 3 years learning something that they do not wish to apply, and are not suitable for them. This is quite wasteful.

My dentist told me that there is a shortage of dental assistants and they have to recruit foreigners for this occupation. The pay is quite attractive, but not enough Singaporeans are trained with this skill.

C H Yak said...

The problem is "what is the softest job to get the most salary & bonuses" .....

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