Challenges remain in shifting employers’ focus from grades: Indranee

October 30, 201411:37 am316 views
Challenges remain in shifting employers’ focus from grades: Indranee
Challenges remain in shifting employers’ focus from grades: Indranee

SINGAPORE — The objective of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) committee’s recommendations is to focus employers’ attention on people’s actual ability but there are challenges in making the mindset shift away from academic grades, acknowledged Senior Minister of State (Law and Education) Indranee Rajah.

Responding to a question from Mr Viswa Sadasivan, who was the moderator of a forum at the National University of Singapore (NUS) yesterday evening (Oct 29), Ms Indranee noted that the public sector might not be able to assess a mid-career job applicant’s ability — outside of academic grades — as swiftly as the private sector can, although she stressed that the Government is “sincere” in making the change.

Private sector employers, for example, can look at the kind of work that an applicant has done and get feedback from others in the industry, she noted. “In the private sector, I think everybody knows… whether or not you can perform. Grades may or may not be an indicator but at the end of the day, it’s your ability to do it well,” said Ms Indranee.

But given the size of the public sector, “it becomes very difficult to do the kind of quick assessment… and you need to try and have an objective system”.

She added: “I think over the years that’s what happened, you try to make sure that in order to be objective and fair you go by the system but sometimes it can go a little bit too much the other way”.

During the NUS U@Live forum, Ms Indranee also reiterated the thinking behind the driving force of ASPIRE’s recommendations, which includes imbuing the importance of lifelong learning.

As the kind of work and the way jobs are done change, certain job roles may disappear and render an individual’s skills irrelevant or obselete, she noted.

“It means you need people who adapt to change very quickly, that means lifelong learning. It means that education no longer stops at poly or ITE or universities because after you go out and work, chances are you going to have to learn something new either in the same job or learn something new because you have to have a new job,” she added.

Ms Indranee also stressed that for ASPIRE’s recommendations — including starting education career guidance and enhanced internships — to bear results, employers, the Government, students, parents and teachers all have a part to play.

She said: “We wanted to make sure it was not a one-size-fits-all and the most key and important thing of ASPIRE is that it creates multiple pathways.”


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