Govt should not put cap on those trying to upgrade

The comment byMinister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung at the 47th St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland is rather puzzling (Education system must be aligned with economy: Ong Ye Kung; May 5).

He said that the education system needs to be aligned with the structure of the economy, and that "in Singapore, this means capping the proportion of graduates in a cohort at about 30 per cent to 40 per cent, while training the rest for vocations in various industries".

This is counterintuitive to his call for lifelong learning.

A university is just another institution of higher education and research.

Is getting a degree the pinnacle of an academic achievement? Even professionals such as doctors and lawyers have to upgrade their skills continually.

It is the definition of these old-school academic structures such as degree, diploma , O levels or A levels that has to be changed with the structure of the economy, rather than curbing the number of people who want to upgrade their skills.

For instance, I am a graduate, but is the knowledge that I acquired 20 years ago in university still relevant today? If I have to learn new skills that secondary school students are already good at, how does that make me, with an outdated degree, more competitive?

When I talk speak to my car mechanic, I am impressed by his knowledge about my car.

We should encourage our workers to acquire deep skills by understanding that it will require them to research and discover new knowledge at all times instead.

I hope that we will not create a system which will result in a stratified society.

Chua Boon Yiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Govt should not put cap on those trying to upgrade'. Print Edition | Subscribe