ST-SMU Future of Work

Traditional degrees can remain relevant in new economy: SMU president Arnoud De Meyer

Arnoud De Meyer, president of Singapore Management University (SMU).
Arnoud De Meyer, president of Singapore Management University (SMU).PHOTO: SMU
In the age of digital disruption, how do you prepare yourself for job security? Find out as panellists answer these questions and more at The Straits Times Education Forum 2017 in partnership with Singapore Management University.

SINGAPORE - In the economy of the future, traditional degrees like literature or the languages can still retain their relevance, said Singapore Management University (SMU) president Arnoud De Meyer on Saturday (Mar 25).


Citing an example of how people who have studied languages and writing might be needed by video game companies to craft storylines for games, Prof De Meyer urged young people to follow their passions when making decisions about their careers, instead of worrying excessively about which jobs would be rendered obsolete.

"I disagree with this idea that new technology is destroying jobs...There are opportunities in the new economy for people with what we would call traditional degrees, and not necessarily just degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)," said Prof De Meyer, who was speaking at The Straits Times Education Forum 2017 at SMU.

Spirited exchanges on the future of work, universities and the economy emerged at a panel discussion, which was moderated by ST managing editor Fiona Chan and involved Prof De Meyer, Mr Ho Kwon Ping, chairman of SMU's board of trustees, Ms Nandini Jayaram, the South East Asia human resource lead for Google Asia Pacific, and ST senior education correspondent Sandra Davie.

In his keynote address at the forum, Mr Ho said that universities like SMU should not "feign helplessness in the face of disruptive change."

"Universities as thought leaders should have the courage, indeed the audacity not so much to predict what jobs might disappear, but by drawing upon the lessons of the past to see into the future, to speculate what new jobs might emerge...Like the proverbial surfer, we want to catch the wave before it cascades over us, so that we can ride the wave rather than be crushed beneath it."

Around 400 people attended the forum, which is in its fourth year and organised by The Straits Times in partnership with SMU.