Students discuss future of education and employment at youth skills symposium

Temasek Polytechnic students discussing ideas relating to Youth Empowerment & Engagement, at World Skills Youth Day 2022. PHOTO: TEMASEK POLYTECHNIC

SINGAPORE - Temasek Polytechnic (TP) student Derica Kon decided to drop out of Anderson Serangoon Junior College after her first year because she felt it was not the right fit for her. 

She opted instead to enrol at TP to pursue a diploma in communication design, where she learns how to deliver a message to a mass audience using eye-catching design techniques. 

She said: “I get to do what I love in poly, and I am grateful that I have access to an educational pathway that lets me pursue my passion in a way that is best for me.” 

Ms Kon, 20, was among the 550 participants who came together to share their experiences at the World Youth Skills Day Asia-Pacific symposium, which took place on July 7. 

The event - organised by Temasek Polytechnic and the Unesco International Centre for Technical and Vocational and Educational Training - brought together youth from 40 countries to discuss the future of employment and education. 

In an address, Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang said higher education institutes and youth can focus on three areas: building skills that are in-demand, an inclusive education and encouraging innovation. 

As the world transitions into a greener and more digital economy, students should have the chance to develop new skills required for future jobs, said Ms Gan. 

“There is an increasing importance of soft skills for the future of work,” she said. 

Ms Gan also said technical and professional education and training (TPET) can be more inclusive to help the younger generation achieve their goals. 

She added: “The TPET ecosystem must provide learning opportunities and pathways for all students, regardless of backgrounds and disabilities.” 

She also encouraged higher education institutes to collaborate in finding ways to support students as they navigate their entry into the workforce. 

Ms Lina Farhanah Anifah, 19, who was at the symposium, said she hopes to use what she has learnt during her psychology studies course to address issues like climate change. 

She said: “Some people are more resistant to policies relating to environmental sustainability. Psychology helps us understand why, and discussions with other youth give us the chance to think about possible solutions.”

TP principal Peter Lam said: “It is important to equip our youth with up-to-date industry-specific knowledge and life skills that will make them strong leaders, innovative thinkers and agile lifelong learners.”

Another participant, Mr Zachary Ng, 19, said a purely academic education would not prepare students for the working world. 

“You need more than good grades to get a job now. Programmes like this encourage you to think more critically about global issues and make you more well-rounded,” added the cyber-security and digital forensics student at TP.

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