Call to look beyond paper qualifications

Ms Narayanasamy Pushpavalli, 63, principal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten, and Mr Edwin Neo, 36, founder of firm Guild of Crafts, received SkillsFuture Fellowships yesterday.
Ms Narayanasamy Pushpavalli, 63, principal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten, and Mr Edwin Neo, 36, founder of firm Guild of Crafts, received SkillsFuture Fellowships yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Specialised skills are as important as academic qualifications, and both individuals and organisations have a part to play in ensuring these skills are passed on to future generations, said Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

He also urged employers to recognise staff and potential employees' non-academic qualifications.

Speaking at the inaugural SkillsFuture Fellowships and SkillsFuture Employer Awards held at InterContinental Singapore yesterday, he said: "For crafts in recognised professions like surgeons, IT and increasingly the arts, the transmission has been quite successfully institutionalised in our tertiary institutions. But for many others, including hawker food preparation, if we are not careful, we lose those skills and those traditions."

This is where the nationwide SkillsFuture initiative comes into play. It enables people to discover their special skills and develop them under mentorship and through hard work and practice, said Mr Ong.

A $500 credit is given to Singaporeans aged 25 and above to encourage them to try a range of courses.

In addition to individual efforts, organisations should do their part too.

It is important for companies to centre their human resource practices on skills and competencies, and not overly rely on formal paper qualifications, he said.

Mr Ong highlighted DBS' use of competency-based assessments during its recruitment process. Since 2015, the bank has also allowed staff to pick up new skills through the DBS Academy.

It was one of 14 employers who won the award presented by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, alongside 27 people who received $10,000 each for training programmes to deepen their skills as part of their award.

Up to 100 SkillsFuture Fellowships will be given out each year to Singaporeans with at least 10 years of working experience in the same or related industries. They should also be very skilled in their area of expertise, demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning and have helped to develop the skills of others.

The Employer Awards will be given to up to 30 businesses annually.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Call to look beyond paper qualifications'. Print Edition | Subscribe