Boost for skills, vocational training at SGFuture session

While there are more alternative education pathways now for people who do not excel in their studies, there is still a need for parents and employers to be more accepting of those who pursue vocational skills.

This was among the views put forth at The Future of the Economy - an engagement session held by the National Youth Council yesterday as part of the SGFuture conversations.

About 50 people of all ages, including students and civil servants, took part in the session at The Future of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay.

Ms Neha Prakash Barma, 28, an economist, said students who do not do well in their studies are often left demoralised due to parental and societal pressures.

Getting a vocational education at the Institute of Technical Education is also not seen by many students here as an option, but rather as a last resort. Salaries for jobs like nursing also do not match the effort put in, she said.

"In other countries, vocational training is very highly valued... we shouldn't frame it in a negative way," she added.

But she noted that the Government has been moving in the right direction to spur changes in mindsets. In the past decade, more specialised schools, such as School of the Arts and School of Science and Technology, have opened.

Academically weaker students are also given more support in schools like Crest Secondary and Spectra Secondary, which provide them with job skills.

Another concern raised in the discussion was about how to stay relevant in the workforce. Mr Tan Shuo Yan, 28, a start-up's project manager, said Singaporeans should acquire skills outside of their job scopes, "so when your industry becomes a sunset industry, you will not be left behind".

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, who attended the session, said:"It is very encouraging to hear so much enthusiasm and good ideas."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Boost for skills, vocational training at SGFuture session'. Print Edition | Subscribe