MP Patrick Tay on what S’poreans can learn from Iron Man & his Mark suits


PAP MP Mr Patrick Tay really loves his alphabet.

Fresh from his three F’s for supporting retrenched PMEs, the representative for Pioneer SMC now has three B’s to help Singapore build a thriving ecosystem that encourages lifelong learning. 

Better career guidance for school-leavers

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Noting that a lack of access to education and career guidance once students leave school is unfortunate, Mr Tay’s first ‘B’ saw him pushing for better career guidance for school-leavers.

“Coaches work with us to explore our strengths and weaknesses, build confidence, and chart career paths,” said Mr Tay. 

Therefore, instead of viewing career guidance as something meant for students or the unemployed, all workers should be able to use their SkillsFuture credits for career coaching. 

This will encourage individuals to take ownership of their personal development and mitigate against a mismatch of jobs, skills and expectations, which is the cause behind our structural unemployment, added Mr Tay.

Better access to continuing education and training

Next, Mr Tay touched on the importance of continuing education and training (CET) – his second ‘B’ stands for better access to continuing education and training – comparing it to Iron Man’s armour. 

Explaining the analogy, Mr Tay noted that just like how Tony Stark becomes Iron Man with the help of his Mark suit, our participation in CET is a chance to upskill ourselves and respond to industry changes. 

“As Tony Stark upgrades his Mark suits to prepare for more lethal attacks, we can upgrade our skills and employability with each CET qualification obtained, improving our chances to bulletproof ourselves against curveballs and seize opportunities in the future economy.”

To prevent mindless upgrading and sub-standard training from turning CET into a farcical initiative, Mr Tay sounded a word of warning. 

“Just as Tony Stark is selective about the modifications to his suits, we must ensure that the CET offered are well designed to attract adult learners.”

This will mean developing programs relevant to the demand of our industries, and equipping learners with skills to help improve their employment outcomes, said Mr Tay. 

Better recognition of skills and competencies

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In his final ‘B’, Mr Tay urged employers to better recognise skills and competencies instead of placing too much emphasis on academic qualifications.

Degrees and diplomas reflect skills at a particular point in time. It is not the be-all and end-all, said Mr Tay. Instead, we should reward learners who continuously upgrade themselves with CET programs. 

While deeply ingrained beliefs over paper qualifications will not change overnight, Mr Tay shared that he believes Singapore is on the right path towards recognising diverse talent. 

“There are no silver bullets. However, I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction…and we can do better in our quest to develop future-ready learners.”

Images via MyCareersFuture/MCI via YouTube/IGN/Patrick Tay via Facebook