Work stints hold valuable lessons for students

I welcome the idea of more work stints for university students ("NUS students to get more work stints while studying"; Nov 7).

This will allow them more opportunities to apply what they have learnt to the working world. This is especially important as changes happen faster than before.

The Government can take the lead by actively encouraging more jobs stints of different varieties in the various government departments and state-owned enterprises.

Widening students' exposure to different jobs will allow them to discover their interests and the industry's expectations.

This will improve their employability and enable them to gravitate to the jobs they love. This will work to reduce the high turnover rate of certain professions and improve the economic returns on public investment in university education.

We should also seek to expand the horizons of our young people by encouraging more of them to take up jobs overseas.

The Government should consider tapping our strong international relations to make it easier for our students to work overseas.

It could also consider building a fund so that poor students who can manage their course work well do not deny themselves such opportunities to work overseas. This will make our education system a fairer one for all students.

All these have been tried and tested, and delivered promising results. For example, the American university Minerva has sourced many opportunities for students to work in rising start-up companies, such as Airbnb and Uber.

This has given students an enormous edge over the global competition of talent. In fact, some of these employers have called on some first-year students to drop out altogether and accept generous offers to become permanent employees.

Our education system must go beyond acquiring formal qualifications.

We must be decisive and take the initiative to make the necessary choices in this sea of change. This will best prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui