Friday, August 29, 2014

In praise of non grads – What’s the agenda?

University degrees not necessary have been trumped around for a while with ministers talking about better prospects as hawkers and crane drivers and being more desirable. What’s the point of a degree when you cannot eat it or cannot get a job? After what was spoken at the NDR, the praising for non uni grads, particularly poly grads, took on more steam. It is like everything about university education is wrong and the future is in poly grads and non grads. There is no doubt that poly grads have an important role in the economy and some could do very well. They were the stars during the semi conductor era when Singapore was a manufacturing hub and many rose to become CEOs of multinationals.

Things have changed, jobs have changed, the employers have changed, govt policies have changed, and the new animal, foreigners, have dominated the employment scene as employers, recruitment agents and as the preferred sources of talents. We have seen many PMEs being booted out of their jobs in their primes and unable to find another job as the foreigners took over. Our local university grads are found to be either dumb, not smart enough or trained to unemployment or with unsuitable marketable skills.

And we have something like 6 universities and more joint universities instead of just the Singapore University and NTU. This could be just one of the reasons, over production of graduates. Like Douglas Chua said in the ST forum, education policy needs a rethink, ‘it has either been overdone, resulting in an oversupply of graduates, or its current benefits are not as relevant to our open, pragmatic economy’. This is a most surprising statement from a forumer.

What the hell is going on? The govt does not know what it was doing and messing up education again? On one hand, so many universities were set up and on the other hand saying there is an oversupply and we don’t really need graduates from the universities but poly grads or non grads?

I can think of another reason. Since our local graduates are not marketable or employable, and our citizens are good only in technical and lower management jobs, and only foreigners are good and preferred for top jobs, yes, it is only pragmatic to cut down on university education. We don’t need so many local graduates and universities. We only need to import all the talents that we need. I think this is a good policy. We can then either close down a few of the universities and save some money and land. Or perhaps these universities can be turned strictly into commercial enterprises, be self funding and self sustaining, with the highly paid foreign lecturers and professors being paid by the fees from foreign students. The scaling back is good and natural. We would be self sufficient in having local hawkers too, not dependent on PRC hawkers. And we can go back to the days of SU and NTU to provide the few grads we need.

Do I make any sense? Are we really going to go the non uni road, to produce more non uni grads and be dependent on foreign uni grads for our top jobs, management jobs?

What do you think? What is the new education policy? What are the employment opportunities for our average local talents, the Ah Bengs, Ahmads and Aruns?