When Ang Wei Neng, MP for West Coast GRC suggested that degrees from our local universities have a timestamp and expiry date, the Internet erupted with ridicule and scorn at his suggestion. Of course, some people were thrilled that they can hit the campus again in their fifties or sixties and do all the stuff that our twenty somethings do at the halls. But the majority, by and large, were aghast that their degrees will become worthless if Ang’s suggestion were ever implemented.
His suggestion is self-defeating, and netizens were quick to poke holes in his argument and went on to explain why such a scheme would only make Singaporeans less effective and less competitive.
According to Ang’s rather simplistic and narrow worldview, renewing degrees has some merit, it seems. He cites an example of an engineer who has the experience but not the paper qualifications and cites this as the reason why the engineer is not hired because of either his age or the perceived outdated skills set. Ang goes on to explain that an “updated” degree would put the engineer in a better position to be reemployed elsewhere.
It may be true in an all-white-washed-world that he hails from, but for many of us, the hoi-polloi, and the heart landers, taking time-off to do refresher degrees is a luxury especially when we are running from pillar to post to make ends meet. Our SMEs are running on a razor thin margin to even think of letting someone off for a prolonged period to do a refresher degree. It may be financially more prudent to hire someone younger who is a lot more tech savvy.
And here’s the rub…
A degree from a university that boasts itself as the top 10 in the world is worth nothing in ten years while a certificate from a degree mill is worth a lifetime of salaries and increments.
It is bad enough that we get the short end of the stick with our laxed immigration policies, now he is adding insult to injury by saying that local degrees should come with a timestamp.
The thing is, we jump through all the hoops, put ourselves and our children through streaming in primary and secondary schools, pay through our noses for tuition just to give the degree miller an unfair advantage over us.
I say, let the degree miller take tests in Singapore before applying for jobs here, and make them renew their certs every two or three years. Would this be fairer on our workforce, and wouldn’t this create a level playing field for our local boys and girls?
Perhaps, Ang Wei Neng should set a good example of invalidating his own degrees from NUS and NTU and enrol himself as a fresher in one our Institute of Higher Learnings.
Kumaran Pillai is the publisher of theindependent.sg. The views expressed in this commentary are his own and does not represent the views of the organisations that he is affiliated to or a member of.
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