• You Are More Than Your Educational Qualifications

    by Deana Zafir

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    Edited By: Jue Ping Ling 

    After 40 years of O-levels in Singapore, the country will be updating its secondary school come  2024. This means that students currently in Primary 2, in 2019, will be the first batch affected by the change. 

    Known as the Subject Based Banding (SBB) system, the new system will sort students out in classes, according to their academic strengths. Unlike the O-levels, the SBB system will no longer classify students by their streams based on overall grades, but rather, by their strong and weak classes. 

    The change brings relief to parents, worried about the mental toll Singapore’s current educational system will put on their children. We’ve heard the horror tales of children hurting themselves over “bad” O-level marks. But to others who have been through the current “old” system, this change is scary. How would they cope and compare with the newly educated batch of students graduating with the new system, when the time comes?

    What happens to those of us with only N and O level certifications? Will those with the old qualifications be made obsolete and at a disadvantage as compared to those with freshly minted and marketed SBB qualifications?

    What about our children? Not to forget, how will we as adults cope with the upcoming changes when it comes to job hunting in 2024? Read to find out more from Singapore job agency, BGC Group. 

    1. Consistent upskilling to keep up with the times  




    One way to keep up with the times is to always upskill yourself. Make use of government-supported resources such as short courses taken under the SkillsFuture, higher Nitec, or poly courses can also make you more marketable for job opportunities.  

    A simple google search will inform you of up and coming skills that are in-demand. Skills in Manufacturing, Content Production, and Cybersecurity are in high demand by employers and recruitment firms in Singapore.  Try to focus on related courses in this industry to keep yourself on track for the future.

    If you’re looking to thrive in non-executive level positions, your certifications matter far less than an emphasis on soft skill development. Having a variety of stable job experiences should keep both you and your resume relevant in 2024. In a paper-hungry society, we tend to forget reminding ourselves that we are more than just our certificates. All past job experiences - temporary jobs, internships - no matter how trivial you think they are - contribute to our soft skills bank in some way or another.

    2.  Self-motivation and passion counts  



    A fear that comes with the new SBB system is that students will be placed into classes along with other disadvantaged students who are less “motivated” in their studies. Let’s not forget that passion plays a huge role in how motivated one is in their studies or career. The SBB system intends to focus more on developing students by the subjects that best interests them.  

    One real-life example is Night Owl Cinematics’ Aiken (@aikenchia), who wrote about how he was denied a chance to study  Pure English Literature because he wasn’t in an Express class stream. Despite being in the Normal Academic stream, Aiken scored an A1 for English and an A2 for Pure Literature, whilst none of the students in the Express stream scored a single distinction (see below). Proof that passion for something can drive motivated students further. 




    The new system will adapt from America’s high school system whereby students will have to take classes with new sets of classmates - all who share their interests or aptitudes for the subject they have chosen. This is a positive step in helping build soft skills, such as their communication skills through constant socialization.

    3. Celebrate education in all forms  



    No matter the results, let’s celebrate the success that comes with all post-secondary school education. Perhaps, we, as a society should start abandoning the ideology of one must accomplish a certain level of certification as a be-all-end-all. Yes, educational certificates are a tangible way to let an employer know who educated you are in a subject of expertise. However, let us not forget that practical skills and soft skills matter too,  and especially more so in a world where there’s a major skills shortage.

    This concept has already been widely practiced by several visionary employers. So instead of chasing certifications because you have to meet a “standard”, let’s see education as something to help us continually improve and upskill ourselves - because we want to.  

    One way to boost your personal skill sets, as mentioned in our, “Poly vs JC! Help! I Cannot Decide Where to Go!” article, is by volunteering or taking up internships. That way, you’ll be able to build upon both the hard and soft skills needed to win employers over. So, find out what are essential skills needed to make your resume irresistible to employers! 

    Take a cue from these 3 successes who have made it without post-secondary school educational qualifications  


    Benny Se Teo, Founder of Eighteen Chefs Singapore  




    After failing to pass his O levels, Benny Se Teo traveled down a precarious path, before realizing his dream of starting his first restaurant in 2007. Other interesting accolades, the entrepreneur has under his belt include working at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in 2006.


    Fandi Ahmad, National Footballer




    After graduating from ITE, Fandi Ahmad managed to turn things around and soon began playing football professionally. At his peak, Ahmad was playing for FC Groningen, a Dutch professional football club. Despite his accolades, the footballer still wanted to give back to the community, most recently in a collaborative project that linked both ITE and sportswear brand Adidas in 2016. The programme will pick out outstanding sportsmen who will be coached, funded, and equipped by Adidas.


    Joshua Soh, Former Managing Director of CISCO



    If you ever need proof that flunking your O-levels does not mean that you’re doomed to never succeed. One man crushing the stereotype is Joshua Soh, former managing director of CISCO, who was made to repeat his O-levels after flunking his first round of exams. Undeterred, he went on to score high points for his O-levels and was soon enrolled in a Junior College. And taking English Literature soon after at University.

    What are your thoughts on the upcoming Subject Based Branding (SBB) changes that Singapore will be implemented in the near future? Let us, Singapore job agency, BGC Group know in the comments section below!

    Are you looking to kickstart your career with a relevant job position (i.e. full-time, part-time, temp)? Drop us your resume here

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