Netizens laud PM’s rally comments in Facebook chat

SINGAPORE — Netizens participating in a discussion of the National Day Rally speech organised on Facebook by government feedback unit REACH yesterday lauded Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comments about valuing those with lower academic qualifications and enhancing the career prospects of non-graduates.

While they felt ASPIRE (Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review) would be a good start in offering Singaporeans diverse paths to a career, they also acknowledged that this requires a mindset shift that would not happen overnight. Said netizen Abel Peh: “The education system in Singapore is arguably a ‘paper chase’ … More needs to (be done to) bring across (the) idea to both employers and non-academically strong students.”

The Government, many said, should lead the way in championing this mindset change by giving non-graduates in the public service more opportunities to advance in their careers — something Mr Lee has said the Government would do more of.

Said netizen Karen Tan: “I know of non-graduates in the Civil Service who face a ceiling for advancement. I think (a cultural shift in the civil service would be) a good move.”

In his speech on Sunday, Mr Lee made clear a cultural shift in the way Singapore values its people was needed for the future. He noted that a paper chase is not the only route to a bright future; another pathway lies in getting a good job, mastering deep skills, performing well and gaining relevant qualifications to advance a career.

The ASPIRE committee, led by Senior Minister of State (Law and Education) Indranee Rajah, will announce soon its recommendations, which include helping students make better education and career decisions and helping them upgrade later.

Yesterday, REACH chairman and Senior Minister of State (Health and Manpower), Dr Amy Khor, gave a reassurance that the Government will do more in regard to putting more weight on job performance and relevant skills, rather than starting qualifications.

The session’s co-chair, Member of Parliament Patrick Tay, who is a Member of the Government Parliamentary Committees for Health and Manpower, agreed the Government should take the lead. He also highlighted the recently-established national jobs bank as a platform that non-graduates can tap in their job search.

The 90-minute Facebook chat also touched on other announcements, such as the widening of the Lease Buyback Scheme to four-room flats and the new Silver Support Scheme, which will disburse annual payouts to needy elderly Singaporeans from the age of 65 to help them with living expenses.

The session, which involved up to 130 participants at one point, was part of REACH’s National Day Rally feedback exercise that started on Sunday.

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