|Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam highlighted yesterday at a South East Asian Policymakers conference that Creating enough quality jobs is one of the greatest challenges facing countries around the world, said yesterday. Mr Tharman told a conference here that not doing so could mean more polarised politics but success can ensure the foundations of an inclusive society. "If you connect the dots, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that the key challenge for the future is jobs. Not just the quantity of jobs but the quality of jobs," he added.
"In fact, we are now – if you look globally – in the midst of a jobs crisis, a very severe jobs crisis, that has not been seen in decades." Mr Tharman, who was speaking at the Asia Competitiveness Institute conference at the Orchard Hotel, noted that youth unemployment in advanced economies is very bad. It has hit about 23 per cent in Europe overall but is higher in countries like France and Spain. It is a similar story in the United States, with 17 per cent of youth without a job.
Impacting an Entire Generation
This lack of work could lead to permanent effects on an entire generation, warned Mr Tharman, who is also Minister for Finance. "The experience in many economies has shown that once young people are unemployed for an extended period, it often has permanent effects. "The risk is that whole lives are blighted in these societies, and you end up with a wasted generation, who find it difficult to get back into the mainstream of the economy and society."
And it is also crucial to keep creating jobs for mature, middle- level workers.
Mr Tharman noted that the employment prospects of such workers in the US are declining even as wages stay stagnant. The problem could intensify with another 184 million graduates from China and India entering the global workforce in the next 20 years.
"There are political ramifications of this job polarisation. When the middle becomes insecure, politics gets more polarised and becomes more fragmented," he added. The challenge for Asia’s emerging economies is helping its young people. Depending on how policy-makers deal with the situation, they could be a demographic dividend or demographic deficit. He said one solution is simply to equip the younger generation with the right skills rather than with just a general degree.
The Right Skills and Tools – EQ, IQ, CQ and TQ?
"The reality in both advanced economies and emerging ones like China is that there are only so many jobs for people with a general academic degree," he said. So it is important to move away from pure academic bias and towards nurturing people with the right applied skills that companies need, he said.
Whilst Education is still regarded as a critical component in most Asian Nations, there is a need to reflect on its ability to produce innovators and critical thinkers with the ability to leverage on technology to break new grounds and market terrains. One sparking example is silicon Valley, California , powerhouse of the global innovation hub where it has successfully develop a thriving eco-system where university, students, companies work together to ensure the system produces graduates with the right skills sets that companies requires. California state university for example produce thousands of graduates annually which are immediately absorb into the workforce of big giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and starts-up alikes which have a relentless thirst for talent and innovation. A successful model which Singapore is trying to replicate with a certain degree of success due to the lack of quality American education available in asia.
About California State University (CSU)
An intellectual powerhouse of United States, The California State University is the largest and one of the most affordable public university systems in the United States with 23 campuses, 412,000 students and 43,000 faculty members. Highly regarded as a national leader in providing high-quality, accessible, student-focused higher education, CSU offers unlimited opportunities to help students achieve their goals. The University is committed towards preparing graduates who go on to make a difference in the workforce and actively engages in research and creative activities leading to scientific, technical, artistic and social advances.
California State University offers a 1 Year Part-time MBA program in partnership with Aventis School of Management in Singapore.