Saturday, November 11, 2017

Too many people pursue a university degree

I made a statement that we have too many people spending too much time getting a paper degree.

My friend disagreed with me. He said that he qualified as an engineer and the training was important for him. Without the degree, he would not know how to do his work as an engineer.

Many people react like my friend did. They do not listen to my statement. They do not understand my view. They are too quick to express their disagreement.

I said that "too many people" are pursuing a paper degree. We do not need too many engineers. We need people to be skilled at various levels. Some can be engineers. But we also need many people who are good technicians and draftsmen to support the enginers.

I agree that we need engineers with the broad based knowledge that comes with a university degree. But do we need so many enginners?

When my friend qualified as an engineer 40 years ago, he had the support of skilled technicians, skilled artisans and skilled draftsmen. These people were good at their work. He was able to do his work effectively as an engineer and a manager.

We have a different situation today. We have too many people with a paper degree. But we do not have enough people with working experience or technical skills to support them.

When we face problems like the frequent train breakdowns, we do not have people with the experience and technical skills to fix these problems.

The past government policy caused this problem. By giving high salaries to graduates and low salaries to non-graduates, they encouraged too many people to pursue a paper qualification at the expense of working experience and technical skills.

The government has realized the mistake and is trying to correct the situation. But they probably have no clue how to solve this problem. It is a huge challenge. It may take several decades to undo the harm and damage that had already occured.

Tan Kin Lian

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