For non-graduates to have equally bright career opportunities as graduates, more than a mindset change is needed (“Change mindsets on degrees: MPs”; Tuesday).

Merely exhorting employers to change their recruitment and promotion policies is far too simplistic and unlikely to work.

First, most of the best-paid careers in Singapore require degree-level education. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and accountants regularly rank among the top earners in Singapore.

Second, Singapore is a small city-state operating in a globalised world. Many multinational corporations (MNCs) operating here hire only university graduates for their management track programmes. The efforts of Singapore alone will not change this.

Indeed, if local competitors of these MNCs change their hiring policies and the MNCs do not, the former will quickly find themselves at a disadvantage.

Swiss and German vocational training model works because there exist highly paid vocational jobs in these economies…

Lastly, the Swiss and German vocational training model works not because of a simple difference in mindset, but because there exist highly paid vocational jobs in these economies.

A vocationally trained Swiss plumber, for example, could earn more than a degree-trained junior doctor.

Making this model work here will require a major re-alignment of Singapore’s economy, in restricting the supply of foreign labour for vocational jobs, which will drive up the wages of locals in these professions.

There is, however, no free lunch: Singaporeans must be prepared to pay a lot more for the services of skilled manual workers like plumbers, mechanics and repairmen. This is the reality that Swiss and German people have to live with, and the reason why many of them do their own repair work at home.

Calvin Cheng Ern Lee

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