Focus on character development a key to employability

Kudos to the National University of Singapore for being among the world's top universities in turning out graduates who are among the most sought after by employers ("NUS grads among the world's most employable"; Nov 13).

Being able to secure a job as a fresh graduate is only part of the success.

Being able to settle down well in the company and be a useful employee who contributes to the continued success of the business is also critical.

Attaining excellent academic results is great.

What is also important is knowing how to apply this knowledge, being a good team player and having a "can-do" attitude, among other factors.

Our universities must continue to focus on the "softer" side of learning and development.

Much as an individual's character and core values are shaped by his upbringing, life experiences and so on, our schools can and must continue to play a key role in shaping their students' character development.

Some important questions to ask ourselves as we continue to journey towards being a world-class nation in the education sphere are:

  • What might the business world look like in the next decade or so? What new jobs might be created? Which are the ones that are likely to become obsolete?
  • What kind of knowledge and skill sets - both hard and soft - are needed for one to excel at work, maybe even for survival?
  • How else can the key stakeholders, namely the Ministry of Education, teachers and parents continue to work together to provide the best possible holistic education journey for the young - to prepare them for the future workplace?

What might be useful and interesting is for the survey organisers to track the career paths of these graduates, over a period of, say, three to five years, and see how NUS graduates stack up against their peers from other universities.

Paul Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Focus on character development a key to employability'. Print Edition | Subscribe