More grads? No, say grads; yes, say bosses

Encouraging S’poreans to take business risks abroad
SHOULD Singapore produce more graduates who would then have to compete more aggressively for jobs and so encourage risk-taking among degree-holders here?

No, said graduates interviewed by The Straits Times, arguing that it will create dissatisfaction among the unemployed and those unable to secure a job of their choice.

Yes, said employers of graduates who felt that the country was producing far too few of them, and so was losing out in the economic competition among nations.

“A highly educated work force would mean that more people are trainable at a higher level of technology. This would improve our competitive edge,” said Mr Noel Hon, the managing director of NEC Singapore.

He was interviewed by The Straits Times for his opinion of lecturer Chan Yan Chong’s views, which were reprinted in The Straits Times on Saturday. They were the subject of Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s speech on Sunday.

Mr Chan had argued that the difference in the spirit of adventure and enterprise between Singaporeans and Hongkongers was due to the different social safety nets which the governments in the two countries had put up. As one example, he cited the Government’s policy of capping the number of graduates that the two universities here produce.

All 12 graduates interviewed yesterday were against increasing the graduate pool, arguing that while every individual had to be given the chance to secure a degree, it should not be done at the expense of creating graduate unemployment and dissatisfaction.

Said teacher Noel Lee: “One consequence is that it will create a large disaffected middle class who will not be able to secure comfortable jobs.

“The situation is bad enough for our graduates who have to compete with foreigners who look for jobs in Singapore because of limited opportunities in their countries. Our graduates feel threatened.”

NUS honours student Zarina Syed Mohd said that it was a sheer waste of taxpayers’ money to train an undergraduate who might not be holding a job to match his qualifications after graduation.

But employers of graduates disagreed.

Mr Young Kuan-Sing, managing partner of Korn/Ferry International, said: “There is never enough of the well-educated to go around. The more the better for the country.”

His view was shared by three parents with children in or about to enter the National University of Singapore.

Said Mr Aloysius Pereira, 56, whose son has secured a place at NUS next year: “It is good to have more graduates because it will make them hungry for jobs not just in Singapore but abroad as well.

“My son, Jason, actually told me that he would work abroad if there are limited opportunities at home. The world is his oyster.”

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