The Straits Times says

Improve employment outcome data

Employment data commonly gathered about fresh graduates offer a crude indication of the relative worth of their qualifications in the labour market. It is a rough measure as many employers lack the tools and inclination to measure the value added of different institutions of higher education. This is particularly true among small and medium-sized enterprises which employ two-thirds of the workforce. Indeed, graduate employment surveys might reinforce certain biases from one year to the next when the data is relied upon by SME bosses, and thus prove to be self-fulfilling.

The latest survey of the Committee for Private Education (CPE) shows how private school graduates are lagging behind their public university peers in terms of employment outcomes. This data should be reflected upon as it underscores a glaring inefficiency in the tertiary education system. After vast expenses expended by those who cannot be accommodated by public institutions, a lower proportion (less than half) of private school students found full-time permanent work six months after graduation. Even post-national service polytechnic alumni had a higher employment rate. Private sector players and the regulator ought to ponder how they can "uplift standards in the local private education industry", one of the stated aims of the CPE. By zeroing in on emerging and niche skills, for example, private graduates might command a premium.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2018, with the headline 'Improve employment outcome data'. Print Edition | Subscribe