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Scholars should start from bottom, too

I refer to the report, “Paper qualifications alone not a ticket to success: Heng” (May 18).

I refer to the report, “Paper qualifications alone not a ticket to success: Heng” (May 18).

The statement conflicts with the practices in many ministries and statutory boards where salaries for the same job scope are differentiated down to the details of whether one attained first- or second-class honours.

Shouldn’t two people performing similar job scopes be paid equally? If a degree holder and a diploma holder perform equally well for the same job scope and receive the same bonus, the dollar amount would still be less for the lower-paid one.

We should reward only when competence at work has been proven. Yet, the progress of scholars is accelerated even where non-scholar co-workers have more experience or, sometimes, more competence.

As scholars are usually chosen after they complete their A-Levels, there are no clear indications of their competence in the work environment. But they have greater access to opportunities because their career path has been planned or is different from others.

It would be better if scholars were to start from the bottom, like anyone else, and compete on the same level. They would be more motivated and, with equal chances of promotion, so would others around them.

We should rethink our position in rewarding good academic results and qualifications. It is one thing to reward academic achievement with a scholarship, and another to promise faster career advancement.

If all of us, including our ministers, agree that paper qualifications mean nothing when it comes to career success, then maybe Singapore’s largest employer, the Public Service, must change how it selects, grooms and motivates talent.

Our ministers can urge us to be less engrossed in the paper chase, but they cannot convince us because the practices stated above are most evident in the government sector.

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