NTU student-led forum aims to spark dialogue on hiring beyond grades

It is not uncommon for employers to shortlist potential candidates based on their qualifications, particularly their degree and the level of honours.
It is not uncommon for employers to shortlist potential candidates based on their qualifications, particularly their degree and the level of honours.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A profound change is taking place in the workforce and universities with a marked shift in focus from grades to skills as a key aspect of education.

The trend is evident on a range of fronts, including the SkillsFuture movement that encourages Singaporeans to hone skills outside of those acquired in the workplace.

There is also the increase in the intake of students of local universities through discretionary admission exercises and the phasing out of exams for Primary 1 and Primary 2 pupils.

Yet at the same time employers, including the country's biggest hirer - the government- still shortlist potential candidates based on their qualifications, particularly their degree and the level of honours.

The "stickability" of this old-school approach has prompted students of the Nanyang Technological University's Students' Union (NTUSU) executive committee to organise a forum to spark dialogue about hiring decisions and explore how companies can adopt a more holistic and innovative approach when sourcing staff.

The aim of the forum is to encourage bosses to look at criteria beyond academic results in employing fresh graduates and to allow students and educators to be aware of the skills that companies look for in potential candidates.

The forum, entitled The First Step, will involve representatives from leading companies as well as students and faculty members from various universities taking part in two panel discussions on issues pertaining to hiring new blood.

 
 

Panelists include leaders and representatives from the Economic Development Board, Singapore Airlines, the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Manufacturing Federation, which is also the industry partner for this project.

DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta will also outline the creative hiring methods used by the bank to employ fresh graduates.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung will also attend as the guest of honour and patron of the project.

The forum - which is supported by students from National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Social Sciences - will take place at One Farrer Hotel next Wednesday (Jan 30).

The event, which was extended by invitation to various companies and students from the six universities, has been closed for registration.

About 250 students and 300 employers are expected to attend, including representatives from companies such as Standard Chartered, GIC and Singtel.

"There's a current conversation about broadening the definition of merit, and to move beyond grades," said NTUSU president Edward Lim.

"I think this is an ongoing shift in society that we would like to explore, and see how we can work hand in hand with the parties involved."