Government makes good on not needing a degree in Singapore

For as long as anyone can remember, the focus in the workforce has always been about having a degree — and the civil service sector is one of the biggest offenders. A graduate degree holder automatically receives a higher rank than a non-degree holder, who in many cases has more work experience.

This bias extends to promotions as well — higher posts are naturally reserved for degree holders, while most non-graduates slog for years regardless of work ability, not even harbouring any hopes about landing a better position because they have grown used to the notion that the public sector is preferential to degree holders.

The most obvious gulf between degree holders and non-degree holders is in the very scheme that they sign up with. Degree holders are in the Management Executive Scheme while non-degree holders are recruited under the Management Support Scheme. The starting pay difference is a whopping $950.

Today (10 March), Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced from 1 August 2015, non-graduates will be marked under the extended Management Executive Scheme. The announcement was the culmination of a study done last October by the Public Service Division to assess how graduates and non-graduates can move up on the same career ladder.

Prospects for non-graduates increased, graduates have to work harder

Once the extended Management Executive Scheme is launched in August, graduates may suddenly find themselves needing to work even harder to advance in the job ladder, as they will have non-graduates under the same scheme, competing for the same jobs. Hopefully, overall work productivity goes up as a result.

This will definitely make current students re-think their schooling options. Graduating from a university is no longer a requirement in the public sector, and the private sector is expected to follow suit at some point.

Diplomas, polytechnics and ITEs are also likely to increase in popularity, with their more hands-on and real-world approach suited to entering the workforce right after graduating.

Death of the degree holder? Not quite

Taken at face value, the Government’s move towards greater acceptance of non-graduates signals the death of the degree holder. From a pragmatic viewpoint, the ideal course of action would be to get a diploma and begin work immediately thereafter, since most people acquire a degree solely for better pay and job prospects.

However, certain professions such as medicine, engineering, law or accountancy will still require strong academic performances in deciding to hire employees.

The degree will still play a large role in society, but this switch to a single Management Scheme for graduates and non-graduates alike is a step in the right direction in paper and grade-focused Singapore.

The challenge now will be to encourage the private sector to focus less on grades and papers.

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Featured image via Channel NewsAsia
With references from The Straits Times, MSF, MSF