Skills vs Degree debate at ST Education forum ends in a tie

The question of which matters more for success in life – holding a degree or mastering skills – has finally been answered at The Straits Times Education Forum. The result after a heated debate, is a tie.

This quandary – whether you need a degree or not – is one that we have all been trying to grapple with. In his opening address before the debate, Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez, said that “as with most things in life, it’s probably somewhere in the middle”.

The debate, organised in partnership with the Singapore Management University, involved a 500-strong audience voting for or against the motion, “You don’t need a degree to succeed in life”. The voting was done in real time, according to how they were swayed as the debate went on.

Made up of students, educators, parents and Straits Times readers, 65.4 per cent of the audience initially voted in favour of the motion, with only 34.7 per cent against it. However, by the end of the debate, the votes from the audience came in at a tie. This reflects the recognition that grades are still crucial to help students discern what they are good and bad at, even though skills are equally important when it comes to getting an edge in the workforce. Ultimately, it is acknowledged that a university degree actually provides the opportunity for both – students attain a degree while also picking up hard and soft skills along the way.

While it is a tie this time, this will not be the last of such debates. It is an age-old question that we will continue to grapple with. The truth I feel, is that no one knows for sure – the world and economies are ever-changing and constantly in flux. Perhaps what is more important is for all of us – working professionals and students alike – to have a mindset of life-long learning to ensure employability.

If you want to read more about the debate and what the panel members discussed, click the following link: degrees-debate-at-st-education-forum-ends-in-a-tie


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