Housewife Hua Yingying's Secondary 2 daughter Esther Xu is interested in science and engineering, and will have to make some decisions about which science subjects to take at the end of the year.
But apart from experiences shared by Esther's father, who works in mechanical engineering, Madam Hua knows little about the careers that Esther can pursue.
The 45-year-old visited the Education and Career Guidance (ECG) fair by the Ministry of Education (MOE) at Nanyang Polytechnic yesterday with her daughter. They were able to speak to ECG counsellors and try out interactive activities at booths set up by industry players in healthcare, the built environment and engineering.
Over 500 parents attended the fair, the first such event for parents organised by the Education Ministry. About 3,600 Secondary 2 students also went to the fair on Friday.
In his keynote address, GIC group president Lim Siong Guan, the former head of the civil service, said that the education and employment environment here is very different now, and that Singaporeans have to be guided by their strengths and aspirations rather than following predetermined paths to success.
FUTURE REQUIRES A COMPASS
The future that we are talking about is one that requires a compass more than a map. The point about maps is that people have been there... the future is unmapped, nobody has been there.
GIC GROUP PRESIDENT LIM SIONG GUAN, the former head of the civil service, on the changing education and employment environment.
"The future that we are talking about is one that requires a compass more than a map. The point about maps is that people have been there... the future is unmapped, nobody has been there," he said.
There was also a panel discussion featuring speakers such as MOE divisional director Liew Wei Li, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling and Ms Farisha Ishak, a singer-songwriter and second-year student at the National University of Singapore.
The MOE has been giving more education and career guidance to students and parents. Last October, it announced that it would increase the number of ECG counsellors in secondary schools, junior colleges, the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics to 100 by next year. This comes on the back of a 2009 study which found that close to half of young people here chose their courses or careers without sufficient exploration.
Said Ms Low: "When parents are a part of their children's decisions in choosing what to do and study in the future, their journey will be better, brighter and lighter."
An updated guide book which aims to get parents to better understand how they can support their children's aspirations will be distributed to parents of students in Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5 and those in their second and third years of pre-university, from November onwards.
Madam Hua learnt more about the biomedical engineering field yesterday and realised that it could be a viable way for her daughter, who is leaning towards biology over physics, to join the engineering industry.
"Some of my perspectives also changed after listening to Mr Lim's talk... We often think that it is important to strive academically and it is the end if you don't make it at the Primary School Leaving Examination. But it is okay to make mistakes and take longer routes to success."