Once a prestigious title to hold, university graduates today seem to be caught in the worst dilemma – mismatch of things learnt in school vs available opportunities in the job market. With the oversupply of graduates in the current market, many graduates have found themselves either unemployed or underemployed. Here are some reasons to understand why.
#1: Soft Skills Not Taught
Soft skills, such as interpersonal skills, are by nature difficult to quantify and while some local universities have done a commendable job trying to impart these skills (through class participation etc) – the fact is that universities typically don’t equip students adequately in this area.
In the words of Minister Ong Ye Kung (June 25, 2016, speech), “IHLs (Institute of Higher Learning) must help students to build up their essential soft skills… These are skills that industry leaders told us are lacking in Singapore students.”
#2: Employment Market Supply And Demand
Many of us were brought up within the Singaporean education system, thinking that there is a structured path along life’s milestones (especially past university). Hence it may come as a rude shock to many that a good job isn’t waiting for them after graduation.
Like any market, Singapore’s job market is subjected to supply and demand. Given the global supply glut of graduates, as well as slowing economic growth, it shouldn’t be a surprise that job vacancies are shrinking. And just like how it’d be difficult for you to decide what to eat at Maxwell Food Centre (too many choices!!) – the labour tightening trend makes it harder for graduates to stand out.
#3: Education Is A Business After All
This is highly relevant for universities, be it private or public. While many undergraduates are right in the sense that they exist to help prepare them for working life, they are also business entities that have overheads and a bottom line to maintain.
Hence, is it any surprise that practices like taking in as many students as possible (to boost revenue) and opening up more slots for more popular courses become more commonplace? This is especially given that the competitive landscape for educational institutions has gotten more cut-throat, with many new universities sprouting up (both public and private).
The end result, then, is the graduate oversupply problem mentioned earlier – which exacerbates the unemployment situation.
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