“The course, Business Skills For Engineers, will equip engineers with business skills such as marketing, strategic planning, and human-resource management” (NTUC Courses To Train PMETs To Be T-Shaped, Miss Rachel Chan).
I refer to the intriguing report, “NTUC Courses To Train PMETs To Be T-Shaped” (February 12, 2010) by Miss Rachel Chan.
Since the assortment of recommendations made by the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) a couple of weeks ago, various associations and organisations have introduced a flurry of activities and programmes to complement the rhetoric. In particular, there has been a pronounced movement to value-add segments of the workforce, as well as to considerably heighten the productivity of workers or employees. Naturally, given that the PMETs make up for a substantial majority in this country’s economic composition, increased emphasis on this group of individuals – including this effort by NUS Extension and NTUC LearningHub – has not been much of a surprise.
In essence, it is certainly well-intentioned for such enrichment courses – with a multitude of methodologies and pedagogies – to be introduced to specific target audiences, because the general concept is to advance the talents and interests of the workers; thereby enhancing the overall standards of the Singaporean workforce.
Nevertheless, it should be pointed out there already exists many mechanisms and specifically-adapted courses to upgrade the skills of workers; particularly in terms of managerial know-how and the “soft skills” to couple the technical expertise that many of the workers possess. Moreover, many platforms would continuously be developed to guide the latter up the value-added chain. With the plethora of channels available, there would be the inevitable element of confusion as potential-students would be spoilt for choices over the different forms of courses and learning packages. There is also the real danger of having workers “going through the motion” for the mere sake of the additional certification on their resumes, instead of genuinely comprehending the new skills to heighten their effectiveness and efficiency. These subtle nuances get lost in the anxiety and desire for speedy remedies; but they would remain compounded unless cohesive efforts are taken to address the unfortunate ramifications.
The most crucial step would be for current organisations – especially government-managed ones – to calibrate their efforts instead of launching singular programmes. Furthermore, extra effort should be made to help workers comprehend the diversity of choices available; and to make decisions best suited for their respective professions and interests so that lesson materials and resources are not in vain.
We should not be contented with the status quo, but our advance forward must be a calculated and cooperative one; instead of clouding our vision of the future with lofty, unrealistic objectives through uncoordinated efforts.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.