The skills debate – an intervention from South-East Asia

In a recent post on this blog I looked at the developing discussion around skills, and how universities should respond. In the meantime, Singapore’s Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung, has suggested that the city state should have a multi-pathway model of post-secondary education and training. Part of this will be run through a new state agency called SkillsFuture, which is offering high-potential qualifications not involving a university degree.

There is an additional point to be observed in Singapore’s approach. The Minister wants schools to stream pupils ‘according to their inclinations’ regarding science, creative arts or IT. The idea behind the Minister’s approach is to stabilise careers. The general assumption is most developed countries is that those entering the labour force in future will not remain with one employer but will have a ‘portfolio’ of careers. The Minister does not want this for Singapore’s workforce.

All of this indicates again that the debate about skills, education and training has really only just begun, and governments, their agencies and educational institutions may not all be making the same assumptions and pursuing the same pedagogical goals. Indeed whether this matters is not yet clear either.

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One Comment on “The skills debate – an intervention from South-East Asia”

  1. Vince Says:

    This all seems a bit ‘asking the wrong question and coming up with the wrong answer’ about Singapore’s debate. Isn’t the real question nowt to do with education al all but the creation of and investment in new business.
    Where education designed to manage a population derived from Victorian theory trains the creative out of people and ‘innovation programmes’ designed to nurse start-ups are in fact more destruction heaped upon the spark that survived education.
    Back in the day Tweed and Fair Isle was an answer but the question wasn’t a need for scratchy woolen’s that you needed a silk lining to wear. And is the question the weed was the answer still being answered.


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