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Chan Chun Sing urges youth to go beyond relying on good grades for jobs

SINGAPORE — Jobs and skills sets that are now perceived by many to be increasingly important might not be as “hot” in the future. And to gear up for future jobs, youth should go beyond just relying on good grades alone, and possess the four “As” — an awareness of current affairs, analytical skills, being able to adapt to various scenarios, and to anticipate change, said Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking at a Polytechnic Forum on Sept 23. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking at a Polytechnic Forum on Sept 23. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — Jobs and skills sets that are now perceived by many to be increasingly important might not be as “hot” in the future. And to gear up for future jobs, youth should go beyond just relying on good grades alone, and possess the four “As” — an awareness of current affairs, analytical skills, being able to adapt to various scenarios, and to anticipate change, said Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Speaking at a dialogue with 300 students at the Polytechnic Forum 2016 held at Republic Polytechnic on Friday (Sept 23), Mr Chan tackled topics ranging from staying relevant amid changing times, unequal financial assistance given to the lower-income group, to LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) issues.

He noted that while e-commerce is causing disruption to brick-and-mortar shops, it has led to a rise in job opportunities in the e-commerce sector, such as data analytics and cyber-security.

However, the fast-sweeping developments can lead to “scary” prospects, such as whatever subjects polytechnic students are studying now might become “irrelevant” eventually.

Employers would be less interested in paper qualifications and grades, but on the prospective employees’ ability to perform well in interviews, and apply their skills, Mr Chan said.

What would set these employees apart would be a “sense of curiosity” to venture off the beaten track and “bring back something extra”, he added.

When asked whether too much help — such as in the form of bursaries — was being given out to lower-income households, compared to their middle-income counterparts, Mr Chan offered the students two scenarios: Help everyone “equally”, or extend help “unequally” to those who started off with less.

Citing the differing views over who should be eligible for the Silver Support scheme, which supplements the incomes of low-income elderly, or GST vouchers, he told the students: “You have to decide, as a generation, whether you want to hold dear to this principle that in trying to reach for a more equal society ... you’ll accept that people are unequally endowed.”

“It’s always easy to say you want to do more, and to do good, but sometimes, you have to ask yourself where you want to give less.”

Offering his personal views on LGBT issues, Mr Chan said: “I’m not going to discriminate … (You’re free to do) whatever you do behind your bedroom doors ... It’s not my problem. I’m not a sex policeman ... But if you tell everyone to champion pro-LGBT or anti-LGBT (causes), it (might) cause social divisions, so (I have to step in) to be the policeman in the middle.”

On the issue of national cohesion, Mr Chan asked if the desire to be called Singaporeans is based on the success that the nation is now enjoying.

“Success, security cohesion is not what we can promise you ... all of you have to work hard to stay ahead of changes and stay competitive.

“To be a Singaporean is not a God-given right, it requires hard work to fight for that right to be called Singaporean,” Mr Chan said.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Kezia Kew, 18, said the dialogue had prompted her to think harder about the future. “Our generation of young Singaporeans (tend) to have a short-term view. We (focus) on the here and now, but we need to start thinking more about the future and what’s going to impact us,” she said.

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