Forum: Graduates' non-cognitive skills will also benefit workplace and society

Recent comments by educators (Students with special educational needs struggle with transition to higher education, Aug 9; and askST Jobs: My child just entered university. What can she do to stand out in her future job hunt?, Aug 22) underscore the importance of non-cognitive skills in higher education.

Non-cognitive skills encompass a wide array of attributes and qualities, ranging from emotional intelligence to the ability to cope well and stay resilient.

University education has become increasingly challenging. Apart from managing regular academic tasks, students are expected to learn beyond their classrooms at the same time. Acquiring IT skills, participating in extracurricular activities and taking up internships have become a norm for many students.

To thrive, they need to be resilient, adopt the right mindsets, apply appropriate coping strategies and manage their mental well-being effectively.

Employers today look beyond cognitive abilities in hiring their employees to perform complex tasks in a diverse work environment.

Global companies Google and McDonald's, for instance, announced last year that they would be evaluating the performances of their top executives based on their ability to promote workplace diversity and inclusion.

More importantly, we need to recognise that the benefits of non-cognitive skills go beyond ensuring graduates' employability.

The purpose of higher education is also to cultivate appropriate attitudes and values, morals and ethical standards, maturity and social responsibility among students.

While the workforce certainly needs highly skilled graduates, ultimately as a society, we also want graduates who can show compassion and empathy, and treat one another with respect and dignity despite our differences.

Wong Wan Hoong (Dr)

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