Schools not preparing youth for work: Poll, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Schools not preparing youth for work: Poll

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Seven in 10 young people are unsure or do not think the tertiary education they receive in Singapore prepares them sufficiently to join the workforce, according to an online poll.

The finding from a 2018 survey by Youth.SG, a portal supported by the National Youth Council (NYC), was reaffirmed at two dialogues on lifelong learning, also held last year, for people aged between 15 and 35.

One dialogue participant, Ms Nirmal Bhai S. Sundramoorthi, a pharmacy technician, recounted how a gap in her knowledge kept a patient waiting.

The patient had told her his medical allergies after she handed him his prescribed drugs.

For such a situation, her lecturers at a local polytechnic had told her to just consult the doctor for an alternative medicine.

"But at work, I found you first need to know what's available in the pharmacy because the doctors will ask you to suggest an alternative. It took me some time to find the alternative, causing the patient to wait longer than necessary," said the 24-year-old.

The episode, however, drove home to her the importance of continuous learning, she added.


The account was among the highlights in a new NYC online report on the seven-month dialogue series called Youth Conversations that was launched last April. It covered such issues as success, mental health and environmental sustainability.

In all, almost 3,000 young people were involved in 30 discussion groups and more than 5,000 in online polls.

Like Ms Nirmal, most agreed they have to continually acquire new skills and knowledge to keep up with rapid changes in industries.

But they worry they may not have enough time or energy to pick up new skills while working full-time.

Responding to their views on education, Associate Professor Mary Anne Heng of the National Institute of Education said there are several important skills students must retain from school.

"It is important for students to develop critical soft skills such as resilience, the ability to deal with ambiguity, uncertainty and failure as such human skills cannot be replicated by technology," Prof Heng told The Straits Times. She is associate dean at the institute's Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Academic Group.

On success, the report said the dialogue series showed young people view it beyond just attaining good jobs and financial security.

Instead, they strive for non-conventional goals, such as personal development, emotional well-being and a greater purpose in life.

These were based on responses from almost 160 dialogue participants and over 500 online respondents.

The dialogue series will be held yearly until 2024 and the findings will be used by the Culture, Community and Youth Ministry, which oversees the NYC, to produce an initiative that will let young people work with the Government to find solutions to the issues they care about.

This SG Youth Action Plan is set to take off in 2025.