This post is part of the series Budget 2017
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TL;DR – Employers coming round to hiring based on skills, not just academic grades?
There was a recent article highlighting a video by British travel, fashion and beauty video-blogger Georgia Caney. Caney has a following of over 44,000 on Youtube and over 7,000 followers on her private Instagram account.
The video was uploaded some six months ago and nope, I’m not sure why that particular website decided to share it. Caney, a Briton, had made that video to answer some of the questions from the people who follow her on Instagram, and they’re mostly about life in Singapore, what are cool places to visit and also about getting a job here.
That article focussed on the part of her video where she explained how easy it was for her to get a job in Singapore. The article highlighted that Georgia said that“foreigners who are thinking of moving here to work need not also have a degree – that the employers here look more at work experiences of such foreigners.”
The article and the video is interesting. From the article and video, one may be led to believe that Singapore’s immigration laws are lax. It isn’t. Georgia may have found it easy to get a job in a company who’s willing to sponsor her EP (Employment Pass). But that is likely because she had the relevant skill set that the company needed and was able to demonstrate that she can add value to the company.
Now I’ve watched the whole video so you don’t have to. The work part was at 3:35, and here’s what she said,
So a lot of people are asking about how easy it is to find work over here, which I have actually answered before, but I guess I’ll go ahead and do it again. For the first couple of months I was here, think it took me about two months to find a job. And I know quite a few people have come over here now without a job, and have found work like pretty easily I’d say, like it hasn’t really been an issue. And they found someone who would sponsor them to get an EP to actually live here. So I’d say it’s really not too difficult.
Don’t think a degree is absolutely necessary, so long as you have experience in the field that you want to work in and make sure that the company is happy to sponsor you as well. I know a lot of people say ‘Singaporeans only’ or whatever, so make sure that the company you’re applying for actually is open to open up the job to everyone to apply. It shouldn’t be too hard honestly, so give yourself a few months. So long as you’re applying for work everyday, be actively looking, then I don’t think it will be a problem at all.
Does that mean that any Tom, Dick, or Harry from any country would find it easy to get a job in Singapore?
Of course not. What it means is that if you are highly skilled in areas that are in high demand, then it’ll be easy for you to get a job in Singapore. Regardless whether you are Singaporean or not. For instance, if you are a kickass computer engineer or you have some mind blowing skills in cyber security, you will find it easy to get a job anywhere in the world.
What about the part where she said that you don’t necessarily need a degree?
How can it be that Singapore is giving allowing foreigners who don’t have degrees to work in Singapore? Well, what’s wrong with that? Why is a degree such an important criteria? We know of some non-Singaporean friends who are great computer engineers but don’t have degrees in computer science but are contributing massively in Singaporean start-ups and enterprises.
For that matter, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have a degree. If Mark Zuckerberg one day decided to quit Facebook and want to come work in Singapore as a computer engineer, would we not give him an Employment Pass (EP) just because he doesn’t have a degree? Anyone who thinks that should have his brains checked.
And if we have no issues with granting Mark Zuckerberg an EP, then the same principle should apply to everyone. It’s not whether the person has a degree. So long as the person is deeply skilled in areas that are in high demand, able to create value, and is able to contribute to the economy of Singapore, we should grant him an EP.
In fact, it’s a great thing that Singaporean employers are looking past degrees. Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) emphasized in Parliament that “we are at the threshold of major changes in our society and economy. We need to also transform our higher education landscape in response.”
He elaborated on five important shifts as part of this transformation:
- Besides being a pathway into good jobs and lifelong employability, education also needs to be a journey to fulfil hopes and aspirations.
- Education and learning need to be lifelong.
- Education must impart skills, not just information and knowledge.
- Learning by doing
- Help Singaporeans adapt to a data-rich and digital working environment
But these shifts are not easy to make. Minister Ong pointed out that the toughest challenge of all in making these shifts is to change mindsets. Amongst others, Minister Ong highlighted that employers must change their mindsets. He said:
“Employers must likewise do the same. Hire based on interest, skills, and cultural fit, and not just based on grades and qualifications. Because the Ministry of Education (MOE) can say all we want about dialling back from an overemphasis on academic grades, but our message will ring hollow, unless employers can demonstrate that good jobs need not necessarily come from good grades.”
So if this blogger knows of people who have gotten employed in Singapore despite not having degrees, then perhaps it shows that the mindsets of Singaporean employers are changing. And surely that is a great sign. It means that we are heading in the right direction and it is possible for us to make the five important shifts needed for the transformation of Singapore’s society and economy. And that is something we should cheer for.
Continue reading this series:
Is it really THAT easy to get an EP in Singapore?