TL;DR – Career guidance is available to youths throughout their education journey, but it should also be available to them after they have graduated from Institutes of Higer Learning and beyond.
During the recent Budget 2023 Debate, MPs spoke about the need to strengthen vocational training and apprenticeship programmes for youths, to ensure that they remain employable and can land suitable jobs for which they are trained. Haven’t we all experienced or heard of internship nightmares from our friends and families? At their best, internships help you to make valuable connections, gain real life skills, and build your resume. If you’re lucky and perform well, you might even land yourself your post-graduation job! And at their worst? Well, you might end up doing filing, menial admin work and going on coffee runs for your bosses 10 times a day.
Support for youths to keep up with skill demands while they’re still in school
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Desmond Choo had previously shared that some of them have found their skills eroding substantially even before they graduate. Reskilling and rapid adaptation is the new game.
To improve the quality of internships, Mr Choo suggested that unions and schools work with companies to provide good internship placements and systems that establish clear standards of internships.
Mr Choo suggested incentivising companies to develop structured work-study diplomas and overseas training stints, which could also improve Singapore’s productivity and pool of talent.
Supporting youths in their careers
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay elaborated further in Parliament on 28 February where he proposed three ways to provide better support for our Youths in helping them kick start their career journey, and continuously support them as they progress in their careers.
1. Better career guidance for youths who have just left school and new entrants into the workforce through career coaching
Mainstream schools have access to education and career guidance throughout their education journey. This support is available for them until they further their education in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). Upon graduation, they may not have access to subsidised professional career coaches.
“Coaches work with us to explore our strengths and weaknesses, build confidence and chart our career paths. They are invaluable resources throughout our careers and the start of our career journey should be no exception,” said Mr Tay.
One suggestion Mr Tay proposed for MOM’s consideration is to allow youths as well as workers in general to make use of their SkillsFuture credit for career coaching services since this aligns with the aim of encouraging individuals to take ownership of their skill development and lifelong learning. This will also mitigate against skills, jobs, and expectations mismatch.
2. Better access to quality Continuing Education and Training (CET)
When adult learners participate in CET, they would be better equipped in responding to evolving industry needs and challenges. With each CET qualification obtained, workers are improving their chances in future-proofing themselves against curveballs and enabling them to seize opportunities in the future economy.
Adult learners have to juggle between training, work and other commitments at home. Hence, CETs should be well designed to remain accessible while fulfilling industry demands to achieve effectiveness and better employment outcomes.
3. Better recognition of skills and competencies by employers
Employers need to acknowledge that the mark of high performing employees is in their skills and competencies and less about their academic qualifications. While new employees are typically selected based on their paper qualifications, employers should reassess their talent selection process.
Companies should reward learners who continuously develop themselves via CET programmes and modular courses.
Employers may leverage training opportunities such as those offered by NTUC training and placement ecosystem to train and develop workers, thus, strengthening their talent pipeline.
Our youths need more support in this rapidly changing world. Have thoughts on how we can better support them? Share at conversations.ntuc.sg!