The Straits Times says

Degree v skills: A false dichotomy

Going by the way further education choices tend to be framed, as either pursuing degrees or skills, one might wonder if a streaming mentality still persists among some. Just as the education system's aim is to offer "fluid and flexible pathways as children grow up", those preparing for work life should not be too rigid in their approach. Singapore started moving away from streaming pupils in schools a decade ago, so they could have scope to develop particular interests and broaden their range. "We should avoid the extremes of either uniformity or rigid differentiation," as Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam observed last year.

Workplaces also shun such extremes when market changes require career development paths to be porous. At times, a degree might be required to fulfil certain tasks; as a work setting evolves, specialised skills might be the order of the day. Self-directed learners will know when they ought to return to a campus to pick up what's needed at different times, be it a specific degree or further skills. Indeed, one of the nation's desired outcomes of education is to make the young self-directed learners, adept in making choices that dovetail with both their interests and the demands of the market. Some will see it necessary to pursue a degree initially, while others would want to master skills: to each his or her own.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Degree v skills: A false dichotomy'. Print Edition | Subscribe