SINGAPORE - The typical "What I want to be when I grow up" composition that children write may well be taken seriously by the authorities.
In an unusual move, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) is working with the Ministry of Education to target pupils as young as those in Primary 5 in the new national job and training portal.
Called Individual Learning Portfolio, it will have two sections, one for working adults and the other for students from Primary 5 to pre-university.
Details were disclosed by WDA, the national training body, in a general letter sent out two weeks ago to parties interested in running the portal.
In the letter, obtained by The Straits Times, the WDA describes a three-step plan to help primary school pupils learn about "career awareness", get secondary students to focus on "career exploration" and help tertiary students with "career planning".
"Career awareness, exploration and planning are necessary for all levels of students," it said, adding that the emphasis is different at different levels to meet varying development needs.
When contacted, the WDA confirmed that it wants Primary 5 pupils to have access to its job and career portal.
"The objective is to provide a seamless continuum of education and training and help to build a lifelong-learning culture from young," said a spokesman.
The job and training portal was announced during the debate on the Manpower Ministry's budget last year.
A prototype is being tested.
The agency's plans to target Primary 5 pupils has drawn mixed reactions.
Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said such pupils are at the age where they are a bit independent, the right time to start thinking about careers.
"In any case, they can always change their minds later," he said.
Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said the WDA portal can help students understand their career possibilities based on their current interests.
"They can then decide whether to pursue their education in the area of their interest," he said.
He feels, however, that it will be more useful to older students.
"I also feel the portal may not be useful for pupils at Primary level as they may not be able to fully understand the implications of career possibilities," said Mr Lim. "At primary level, my feel is that pupils should just get a broad education to prepare them better for further education at secondary level."
This article was published on April 28 in The Straits Times.
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