Acquiring a degree

The Straits Times recently shared Mr Andreas Schleicher’s views on the role and significance of university education in today’s world. Mr Schleicher is OECD’s Education and Skills director. The article quoted “A widely quoted 2011 study by researchers Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia, showed that a large proportion of students showed no significant improvement in skills during their first two years of college”. It highlighted that there is a real need for universities to hone students’ skills.

Mr Schleicher remarked that even currently acquired skills and knowledge can become obsolete in this fast-changing world. This can be demonstrated by the rise in robotics or Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will pave the way for next-level proficiencies and cost-cutting efficiencies. It will displace many labour-intensive jobs and even skills-based jobs. Local banks such as UOB are already heavily investing in next-generation banking infrastructure which may do away with the need for bank tellers.

Many governments are becoming increasingly concerned about how to facilitate and maintain high-quality education that is relevant to the social and economic needs of their countries. With many industries being disrupted it is critical that institutes of higher learning adapt quickly and teach their students relevant skills to be employable. Students may need to have cross-discipline skills moving forward. For example, a Business student may have to learn AI or coding to stay relevant.

Students should also take personal responsibility and not wait for the schools to teach new skills. They must have the drive and mindset of active learning to be future ready. Singapore Budget 2018 indicated that the government is preparing for three major shifts in the economy. It is critical that students have the skill sets aligned with these shifts.

AFEA prepares students to be ready for an ever-changing environment. It understands the important difference between acquiring a degree and acquiring skills. Students need to recognise that the distinction between education and skills will become starker in the future.

If you would like to read more about the Straits Times article you can click here.:

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