Trading university for other aspirations: ST-SIM forum on disruption

Oswald Yeo, co-founder and CEO of Glints, speaking at the Forum on Disruptions in Education, co-organised by The Straits Times and the Singapore Institute of Management on Feb 3, 2018 at SIM HQ.

SINGAPORE - Schools can play a bigger role in supporting young people who have aspirations that veer off the beaten track, said Mr Oswald Yeo, co-founder of career development portal Glints.

The 25-year-old had left University of California, Berkeley, in 2016 to run his start-up full-time with two partners.

They had thought they could study and run the business at the same time. But a few months into college, they realised it was not possible.

"My grades weren't going anywhere, my business wasn't going anywhere," said Mr Yeo.

He then decided to take an indefinite leave of absence from school, for which he is thankful to the University of California, Berkeley.

"Even if the business didn't work out, the amount of knowledge I would get and experiences would be so much more valuable," he said at a forum on Saturday (Feb 3). Disruptions in Education (DisruptED) was co-organised by The Straits Times and the Singapore Institute of Management.

More than 9,700 companies have signed up with Glints, which has raised more than $3 million in funding.

The firm, which has 300,000 young people in its database, helps users identify skillsets needed for their ideal jobs, and find the relevant avenues such as courses and internships to acquire these skills.

ST's Senior Education Correspondent Sandra Davie said it is encouraging that more young people like Mr Yeo are willing to take risks and follow their passions. In parallel, the education system has "more bridges and ladders" today, she said, which is important in giving students a range of choices to suit their interests.

She raised three examples of young people in their late teens and 20s who took the path less travelled and were featured by The Straits Times last year.

They include Hwa Chong Institution alumnus Kwa Mei Jun who chose to work as an apprentice to learn the furniture craft first before going to university, and Mr Viren Shetty who dropped out of university to work on his start-up.

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