Calvin Cheng: Mindset change for non-graduates is not enough.

By ex-NMP Calvin Cheng Ern Lee

Today, The Straits Times published a letter from me addressing the parliamentary speeches by MPs saying that a mindset change is needed for non-graduates to have equally bright career prospects.

I argue that this is not enough.

My main points:

1) Most of the highest-paying careers require a degree including lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants.

2) The other job consistently in the top-5 is CEO of an MNC.

However, MNCs only recruit degree-holders for their management-trainee programmes.

Asking local companies to change their mindsets when international companies do not is quite useless.

3) The Swiss and German model of vocational training works not because of a different mindset, but because vocationally-trained jobs such as plumbing can pay more than degree-trained jobs such as doctors.

4) In order for this to happen, the supply of foreign manual workers for these jobs has to be further restricted, so Singaporeans have no choice but to use locals.

5) More importantly, Singaporeans will have to pay much more for these workers.

This is the reason why most Swiss and German people do repair-work at home themselves – it is very expensive to hire a plumber, a handyman etc.

In conclusion, calling for a mindset-change and telling people that non-graduates can also find desirable jobs, is a hollow cry if the best-paid jobs still require a degree.

But if vocationally trained jobs are to be desirable, we have to pay more.

This article first appeared on Five Stars And A Moon. It is reproduced with permission.


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