Take a Degree or Be a Tradesman?

By asingaporeanson

I received a straightforward question from a Singaporean who called himself "A cursed Singaporean son." His question reminded of a discussion of in Parliament early this year when Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin raised the red flag about a potential “glut” of graduates here, and a possible problem of people becoming over-educated and underemployed in the near future.

PM Lee offered a solution - the government will relentlessly redefine what constitutes success beyond paper qualifications. How will that work out, for example, the well known iron ceiling for diploma holders in the civil service? The PM responded, "It should depend on your performance. Whether you are a graduate or not should not be critical - for many jobs degree and diploma holders work side by side."

Soon enough later in the year, in accordance to the emperor's wishes, the Public Service Division announced changes to various Government schemes to improve the career prospects of Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnic graduates. The improvements would give non-graduates in the Civil Service who perform well and are ready to take on larger responsibilities an opportunity to progress faster in their careers, based on their performance. The PSD said it is also studying merging both the graduate and the non-graduate schemes to give its officers the opportunity to progress on the same career track.

Behind the success of the German national team were darker times that bandwagoners chose to forget. One of which happened only a decade ago, not too long in football terms. Germany finished at the bottom of their group at Euro 2000 and failed to progress to the knockout stages at Euro 2004. These was defining moments that led to the decision that a radical overhaul was required. Their World Cup victory just a few days ago was the certification that not only did the Germans showed willingness to change but also carried out their conviction in decisive collectiveness.

Is it safe for you young punk out there to pursue your diploma or ITE courses with confidence for your future? Let's read the email I received from a young Singaporean and think about it.


Hi, I have a question regarding migration.

Is migration to Australia limited to degree holders only? because as far I've seen, most migrates are university graduates.

How about high school leavers/certificate holders/diploma holders, do you have any tips for them?

Best regards,

A cursed Singaporean son.


To A cursed Singaporean son,

No it isn't true that migration to Australia is limited to degree holders. If we look at the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) 2014, you would notice there are a sizable list of occupations on demand which do not require a degree such as, locksmith, bricklayer, gas welder, motorcycle mechanic etc etc. So, should you go to the ITE to take up a relevant course right away? If you are 100% sure you are getting the fuck out of Singapore, sure, go for your trade course if you want to but let me tell you what you have to be prepared for. Make sure you understand what you are getting into.

After your graduation, you will train yourself up as a tradie by finding a relevant job to your trade of choice and work a few years in Singapore. The number of years depend on the requirements of the assessing authority of your trade in Australia. Different trades will require different minimum years of experience. When you are qualified, you will be able to apply for your visa under skilled migration.

Why did I emphasize that you should only do that if you are 100% sure you are migrating? Despite what PM Lee said, you (or other young punks) must be a fool to put faith in his ideas. You will be able to verify that when you take up a trade job. Try for example, go be a welder, in a society where they pay $2 an hour to a worker putting himself at high risk working under at height, confined spaces or under the hot sun. While you are hard at work, think over what PM Lee said, "If you perform well, you will progress faster in your careers," and see if you should place your trust in the great leader. In a society where there is but one bogus union to "fight" for the rights of the tradesman, you should never consider being a tradesman unless - and I reiterate - you are 100% sure you want out.

If you have the slightest of doubt, go get your degree and carve a better life for yourself in Singapore. My advice is to totally disregard what PM Lee suggested. Think about it, if the PM is serious about rewarding workers according to their performance instead of their academic qualifications, half of his cabinet should be sacked today! As the Chinese saying goes, "上梁不正下梁歪", until you see them practicing what they preached at the top, don't bet a whisker you'll receive what you are promised at the bottom.

This post was first published over at the blog of asingaporeanson on 15 October 2014. It is reproduced with permission.


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