Monday, May 07, 2018

No need to get a degree?

The ministers are now saying that there is no need for people to get a degree.

Their statements are greeted with derision and disbelief by the public. Most people say that employers look for candidates with a degree.

We are talking about different situations.

There are many jobs that require a degree. If you wish to go for these jobs, go and get a degree. Better still, get a degree from a good university. Many employers do not accept a degree from a private university that they consider to be below standard.

Remember. These jobs are highly competitive. There is only a limited supply of these jobs. If there are too many graduates applying for these jobs, your chance of getting the job will be slim, if you do not have a good degree from a good university.

There are many other jobs that do not require a degree. These jobs require skills and work experience. These are jobs in the service industry, such as hotels, restaurants, tourism, hospital, nursing homes, pre-school education, etc.

If you do not have the skill and work experience, you will not get these jobs.

If you are not academically strong, you should look for these non graduate jobs and work to get the skills and experience. You can still continue your study on a part time basis.

Many people overlook the fact that it takes three to four years to get a degree. This is the time that can be spent to get skills and work experience. Time is precious. If you spend your time on a degree, it has to be at the expense of skills and work experience, especially in the critical initial years.

The people in the western countries have a better and more practical approach. Many of them come out to work and get the skills and work experience. They still have the choice of going for full time study and get a degree, if it is more suitable for them.

If they wish to continue in a non-graduate job, they can still continue their education on a part time basis. It is the best of both worlds.

There is a change in government policy that can help people to make this switch. They have to get the employers to pay more for the non-graudate jobs.

The government can set a good example by paying more for the non-graduate jobs in the public sector. This will set the benchmark for the private employers.

The private employers will still want to employ foreign workers to reduce their cost. They cannot afford to pay high wages for the non-graduate jobs, as their business is struggling to survive.

The government should give a wage subsidy to the private employers when they employ locals to take up these jobs. With better wages, more locals will be willing to take up these jobs. The private employers can afford to pay the higher wages, when they get a subsidy.

In the western countries, the difference in pay for a graduate and a skilled worker is about 10%. The gap is not 50%, which is quite common in Singapore.

I wish to add a final word that it is the low wage, and not the prestige, that makes people avoid the non-graduate jobs.

Many people are willing to work as taxi drivers and private hire drivers, right? Even graduates are willing to take up these jobs, right?

Why? Because they can earn a good income, even though it is not an office job or a prestigious job. Yes, the earnings make the difference.

If the government wishes to get a better balance in the work force and distribute the workers more evenly between the graduate and non-graduate jobs, they have to address the root cause of this mismatch. Agree?

Tan Kin Lian

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