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3/19/2015

Aspiretobreakthroughlimitingbeliefs

Aspiretobreakthroughlimitingbeliefs

Friday,September12,201407:00

TheStraitsTimes
WereproduceexcerptsofspeechesfromEducationMinisterHengSweeKeat,whospokeabouttheneedforthreebreakthroughsinthinkingandfromSeniorMinisterofStatefor
EducationIndraneeRajah'sspeechonMonday,wheresheexplainedwhatthereportmeansbydeepeningskills.
Wearenotfixingabrokensystem.Infact,thepolytechnicandITEeducationinSingaporeisfirstrate.IthasallowedmanySingaporeanstomakegoodprogress,itiswidely
admiredaroundtheworld.
AspirerepresentstheforwardthinkingandplanninginourpolicymakinganditrepresentsthewaythatwerespondtotheaspirationsofSingaporeans.
Ourbeliefscanshapeourchoices.Ourbeliefscaneitherlimitorexpandopportunities.Myremarkswilladdressthreebeliefsaboutqualificationsthatlimitourpotential,howAspire
breaksthroughtheselimitingbeliefs.
Limitingbeliefs
Thefirstlimitingbeliefisthatqualificationsareallthatmattertogetagoodjob,togetagoodlife.Thisislimitingbecausethehighestqualificationswilldoapersonnogoodifthere
arenojobsavailableinthefirstplace.
InmanypartsofEurope,evennearerhomeTaiwanandotherexamples,weseehighlyeducatedpeoplewithoutajobbecausetheeconomydoesnotcreatejobsforthemfor
structuralorcyclicalreasons.Itisverypainful.
Thebeliefthatqualificationsareallthatmatterisalsolimitingbecausethere'savarietyofjobsrequiringustolearnindifferentwaysandallourlife.
Somejobsrequiredegreessomejobsdon't.Some,likeaheartsurgeon,forinstance,requiresdeepskillsthattakeyearsofpostgraduatespecialisedtraining.Andtherearesome
jobs,likethoseofamastercraftsmanormasterchef,thatalsorequiredeepskillsbutwhichcanbebetteracquiredonthejob.
Qualificationsareaproxymeasureforsomecompetencies,someattributesbutcannotrepresentthefullpackageofattributeseachofusbringstothetable.
Asecondlimitingbeliefistheoppositeextremethatqualificationsdon'tmatteratall.
Somemembersofthepublicareasking:istheGovernmentnowsayingthatqualificationsdon'tmatter?Thenwhyareweurgingpeopletolearnandupgrade?
Soletmebeclear.AspireisnotaboutdissuadingSingaporeansfromupgradingourselves,orpursuingdegreesorpursuinganyformofqualification.Aspireisaboutcreating
opportunitiesforall,notcreatingmorecompetitionforsome.Aspireisaboutkeepingpathwaysopenforall,notblockingpathwaysforsome.
Qualificationsmatterbuttheymustbetherightqualificationsandoftherightstandardforwhatwewanttodo.
So,forexample,wewantourdoctor,ournurse,ourpharmacist,ourphysiotherapisttoeachhavetherightqualificationsforthejobtheydo.Wewanttheengineerswhocertifyour
buildingsaresafe,tobereallywelltrained,wellqualifiedtodothejob.Wewantourarchitectsimilarlytobewellqualifiedforthejob.Therightqualificationsignifiesthatyouhavethe
rightskills,therightcombinationofknowledge,applicationandexperience.
Butnotallqualificationsmatter.Notiftheydonothelpusbuildtherightskillsforwhatwewanttodo.Andthiscanhappenwhenweseekqualificationsasapaperchase,rather
thanasaquestforskills.

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3/19/2015

Aspiretobreakthroughlimitingbeliefs

Recently,ayoungresidentcametoseemeforadvice.Shesharedthataftershegotherdiploma,shewentdirectlytodoaprivatedegreeprogrammebecauseshethoughtthatshe
couldgetabetterjobandearnabetterpay.Butafterspendingtensofthousandsofdollarsontheprogramme,shegotajobthatpaidheratafreshdiplomaholderlevelabout
$2,000.Becausethecompanydidnotfindherdegreeskillsrelevant.
Shelostthreeyearsofsalaryhadshegoneontowork.Soopportunitycostofover$70,000plusthecostofdoingthisprogramme.What'sworse,sherealisedafterallthisthatthis
lineofworkdoesnotsuitherstrengthsandinterest.Shewassocaughtupinchasingthepieceofpaperandlostthechancetodiscoverwhatshereallycaredabout.
Thisstorymovedmebecauseherfamilyisnotwelloff,it'ssuchahugecosttothem.
Ifeelstronglythatwemustprovidebettercareerandeducationguidancetoouryoungpeople.Andourcaptainsofindustrymustcomeoutandexplainwhattheyarelookingfor.
Athirdlimitingbeliefisthatifothersarebetterqualified,Iwouldloseout.
Now,isittruethatifpolyandITEstudentslearnbetter,thevalueofdegreeswouldgodown?
Again,thisisverylimiting.Theoppositeistruewhenourfriendsandcolleaguescandoabetterjob,weallbenefit.
Justthinkaboutthis.WhatdoesittaketomakeavisitortoSingaporehaveagreatexperience?
Fromthepilottothecabincrew,tothemomenthelandsattheairport,thewaythatourcounterstaffdealwithit,toourtaxidriver,tothebaggagehandler,tothefrontlinestaffatthe
hotels,intherestaurants,intheplacesofinterest,everyonewillhavesomeroletoplayinmakingitagreatexperience.
Andnottomentionthearchitectsandtheengineerswhodesignalltheseattractions.Nottomentionthetechniciansandthecleanerswhomaintainthesefacilities.Themorethat
eachofuscandoourpart,themorethateachofusishighlyskilledandcandoagreatjob,themorewecreatetherightconditionsforeveryonetothrive.
ThisistheSingaporeStory.Weenjoyabetterstandardoflivingbecauseweworkasateam,andweearnother'srespectandweearnapremiumforbeingteamplayerscheering
oneanotheron,forhelpingoneanotherdobetter.
Breakthroughs
TheAspirereportencouragesustobreakthroughtheselimitingbeliefs,tothinkanewaboutqualifications,jobsandopportunities:BreakthroughNo.1istogobeyondqualifications
tothepursuitofexcellence,byrecognisingthatattitude,deepskills,knowledgeandexperiencematterifwewanttoperformandexcel.
Thesecondbreakthroughistogobeyondtheclassroomtorecognisethevalueofappliedlearningandlifelonglearningandmaketheworkplaceagreatlearningplace.
Thethirdbreakthroughistogobeyondnarrowdefinitionsofsuccesstorecognisethateveryoneexcelsatdifferentthings,indifferentways,andthatwecanallexcelifweapplyour
minds,handsandheartstowhatwedo.
Doesthismeanthatdegreesnolongermatter?Noneofthesebreakthroughsdevaluessomequalificationsoverothers.Noneofthesebreakthroughslimitsopportunitiesforone
groupofpeopleoveranother.Itisnotaboutonekindofqualificationversusanotheronegroupversusanother.
Canweputthesebreakthroughideasintopractice?
TheanswerisYes...
Iaddressedthreelimitingbeliefsthatholdusbackfromrealisingourfullpotential.ItalkedaboutthreeimportantbreakthroughsthatAspiremakes.AndIsharedthethreeareasof
actionforustobreakthroughourlimitingbeliefs:Wemustlearnateverystage,learnineveryway,respecteveryone.
Thesearenotideals.Theseareimperatives.
Wemustnotlimitourselvestosomeplaces,sometimes,somepeopleoverothers.Wemustbreakthroughintoeverystage,everyway,everyone.TheGovernmentwillworkhard
on"learnateverystage,andlearnineveryway",togetherwithemployers,schoolsandfamilies.
Themostimportantpartofallisrespecteveryone.Becauseattheheartofthematter,itisnotjustaboutqualifications,notjustaboutjobs,notjustabouteconomicgrowth.
AllofthisistocreatetheconditionsforSingaporeanstopursuelivesofmeaning,achievementsandjoy.Everyoneofus,regardlessofourstartingpoints.

ThisarticlewasfirstpublishedonSep10,2014.
GetacopyofTheStraitsTimesorgotostraitstimes.comformorestories.
Copyright2014.SingaporePressHoldingsLtd.Co.Regn.No.198402868E.Allrightsreserved.

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