That WSQ Communications course that outraged some netizens

By June 11, 2016Current, Local Life

TL;DR – A Communications course that forces you to confront your own biases.

The latest Facebook post that has seemed to outraged many netizens is a worksheet from a course that is credentialed by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA):

We’re reproduced the post and photo, in case you can’t view it for whatever reasons.

[media-credit name=”FB / Gary Cheok” align=”aligncenter” width=”540″]image[/media-credit]  

A friend of mine attended a WSQ course on effective communication and was appalled by the atrocious course material.
WSQ courses are government approved courses to help individuals improve their employability.
So apparently, the course instructor was trying to assess the participants’ ability in managing conflict and garnering consensus.
The assessment (refer to photo) required one to decide who to retrench based on their social backgrounds and personal circumstances.
Retrenchment should only be based on one’s work performance. This assessment scenario is not only against our values of meritocracy, it is extremely amoral and discriminatory. I have no idea what the course instructor is trying to teach here.
My friend refused to partake in the assessment and the instructor decided to fail him. I don’t see why someone deserves to fail because he abstained from such shoddy course assessment.
WDA ought to have ample quality checks on their outsourcing of training.

At first glance, it does seem that the worksheet runs counter to all the work that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) has done. Shouldn’t the decision of who gets hired, retained or retrenched be based on merit rather than gender, sexual orientation, criminal record, or political affiliation?

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Isn’t that the whole point of this video by TAFEP?

But let’s take a step back, take a deep breath, and take another look at this post. This course isn’t a HR management course. It’s about effective communication. We certainly consider the ability to guide our teams at work to calmly discuss contentious and controversial issues to come to an actionable consensus as an important part of effective communication.

What sort of scenarios would and should courses that aims to equip the participants with skills to manage conflict and reach consensus have?

Shouldn’t the scenarios should be deliberately provocative?

Shouldn’t the scenarios should be deliberately controversial and contentious?

Shouldn’t the scenarios should force the participants to deal with insufficient information?

Shouldn’t the scenarios should force participants to draw out their biases and pit their stands against one another?

Shouldn’t the scenarios should force the participants to reach agree on the least terrible option out of a set of options which are all terrible?

And that is exactly what this scenario is about.

It provides insufficient information. As a result, the participants are forced to base their decision on certain biases. Their decisions will be based on subjective factors rather than objective factors. This will cause conflict. They will then have the opportunity to practise what they have learned to manage the conflict and come to a consensus.

This is a perspective that Facebook user Daniel Ho had:

Comment by Daniel Ho on FB/

Comment by Daniel Ho on FB/

and Facebook user Mel Tan:

Mel Tan on FB/

Comment by Mel Tan on FB/

Thankfully, the comments on Mothership’s Facebook post are A LOT more sensible than those on some thrasy-sites-disguised-as-alternative-news-sites.

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If this course was on HR management, then this scenario is indeed terrible. But for a course that is meant for participants to gain the skills of communication and forging consensus, this scenario is brilliant.

Maybe the person who was on this course thought he was on a course of HR management and not one on communication. Maybe that’s why he had such a big issue with this scenario. If that’s the case, it’s no wonder he failed the course.


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Jake Koh

Author Jake Koh

Recovering sushi addict, I'm a man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.

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