Students 'must build soft skills' for workplace

Students 'must build soft skills' for workplace

SINGAPORE - Students have been urged to develop their "soft skills" - such as the ability to work across cultures, disciplines and in teams - if they want to be competitive in the job market.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran also said at the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) Excellence Awards yesterday that technical proficiency and knowledge are essential as economies get more integrated, with businesses - even small ones - operating across borders.

Some 442 Indian students were recognised for their achievements in academics, sport or the arts at the event held at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs, told them: "Organisations are also seeking individuals who can work effectively with team members of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, and solve problems collaboratively and innovatively."

He cited the example of an advertisement for a data scientist placed by Google, which said its ideal candidate should be able to crunch numbers, work in diverse teams and mentor people.

"Multinational companies tell us that a key attribute they look for in senior management is international exposure and the ability to lead multi-cultural teams," he said.

These attributes, he added, can be cultivated through participating in co-curricular activities and community service while in school.

"It is an acknowledgement that no matter what our chosen discipline or educational pathway, we can each make a meaningful and valuable contribution," he said, pointing out that the Sinda awards now recognise achievements "in a far wider range of attributes and disciplines".

Last month, the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review committee, set up to look at how technical and vocational training can be strengthened, released a report with 10 recommendations aimed at helping students make more informed education and career choices.

These included giving Institute of Technical Education and polytechnic graduates more career options, such as working and studying for higher-level skills certification at the same time.

Mr Iswaran said the Government is "engendering multiple pathways" to help students acquire skills and knowledge to help them seize new opportunities.

The minister said the award recipients epitomise what the Sinda awards stand for - "a resolute pursuit of excellence in your chosen fields, grit and tenacity in the face of adversity, and a heart for your fellow man".

This article was first published on September 7, 2014.
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