Speaking in Parliament on Monday (8 May), Education Minister Ong Ye Kung stressed that skills would be sought after by employers in the new economy, and not paper qualifications.
“Skills are what carry a premium now, and skills need to be honed throughout our lifetimes,” he said.
He said that degrees can become obsolete in a world where information and knowledge can be found online easily.
Degrees do not enable people to earn a living, he pointed out. Instead, “our ability to keep pace with changing needs of the economy is what helps us earn our keep”, he said.
MOE prefers degrees
However, looking at jobs posted on Singapore Govt career site (www.careers.gov.sg) by MOE, the Ministry that Ong Ye Kung is heading, it appears that his Ministry requires mostly degree holders – especially for the higher positions (Link: http://bit.ly/2r0A4ad).
Let’s look at some of the job ads put up by MOE this month:
* Executive, Higher Education Quality Assurance – A polytechnic diploma in any discipline; those without a diploma and with relevant experience may also apply
* Communications and Engagement Officer (Research) – A university degree in Business Analytics, Statistics, Economics or related disciplines; those without a degree and with relevant experience and expertise may also apply
* Head, Administration and Finance (NPCC) – A university degree in any discipline preferably with at least 3 years of experience in finance and/or general administration; those without a degree and with relevant experience and expertise may also apply
* School Laboratory Technician – Possess at least one of the following qualifications: A full GCE ‘A’ level certificate; or A local polytechnic diploma in relevant discipline
* Assistant Human Resource (HR) Executive/ HR Executive, Recruitment – GCE ‘O’/ ‘A’-Level or ITE certificate in an administration, HR or business-related discipline; those who possess other qualifications with more than 4 years of general administration or HR experience may also apply
* Internal Auditor/ Senior Internal Auditor – A university degree in Accountancy or its equivalent acceptable for membership with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
* Senior Head, SkillsFuture – A university degree in any discipline preferably with prior working experience in policy or industry workforce development; those without a degree and with relevant experience and expertise may also apply
* Senior Human Resource Executive, Recruitment – A university degree in any discipline preferably with at least 2 years of experience in human resource; those without a degree and with relevant experience and expertise may also apply
* Officer/ Senior Officer, Design – A university degree preferably related to Mass Communications, Journalism, Visual Communications with at least 3 years of relevant experience in journalism, production or advertising; those without a degree and with relevant experience and expertise may also apply
Hence, as can be seen, especially for the senior positions, MOE requires the applicant to have a degree.
However, it did qualify itself by saying that “those without a degree” but “with relevant experience and expertise may also apply”. Do take note that the ads used the term “may”, which indicates that MOE’s preference is still for degree holders. In other words, the second clause added for those without degree appears to be an afterthought.