Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Want less stress for kids? Raise pay of technical job

Ng Ya Ken

13 July

Schools may be an “instigator” of stress among our children, as pointed out in “Are schools going too far in the quest for accolades?” (July 12), but the schools are not wholly to blame.

Schools respond to what our parents and society expect them to achieve: Better academic results year after year.

Academic results are much emphasised in our society because students must be in the top quarter or so of their cohort to have the chance to go to our universities now. And this group can earn far more over a lifetime than those without a degree.

There are exceptions, but they remain as exceptions.

However, in countries where academic results and having a degree are not as important in getting good paying jobs as in Singapore, the gap between white-collar and blue-collar workers is small, if any.

And it is common for salaries of skilled technical jobs to exceed those of general white-collar jobs.

[This letter is... too complicated - it's the most generous I can get. To summarise, the point the writer is making is a) schools are stressful, because b) you need academic qualifications in order to c) get a good paying job, otherwise, d) you drop out and get a crappy paying job, which is really bad because e) Singapore's pay differential between a grad and and non-grad is very wide. Whereas, f) in other countries skilled technicians can earn MORE than a grad. Therefore, (g) we should pay our technicians more.]

In Australia, the mining, engineering and construction industries pay better than legal, marketing, banking, accounting and government jobs. Also, the entry-level pay of a manager can be only one-quarter higher than that of an executive assistant

In Sweden, a doctor earns only double that of a teacher or a nurse.

Over time, if Singapore could raise the salaries of skilled technical jobs, more of our young would switch to technical training in polytechnics and vocational schools. They could then pursue careers according to their inclination and aspiration.

We should make these career options, as well as jobs in music, the arts, design and the like, more viable. This would be an important step towards a more balanced and less stressful education system.

Such tweaks in our pay structure would tame our Gini coefficient, though it may have implications for our economic competitiveness.

If the long-term social and political benefits outweigh the costs and inconveniences, it would warrant our consideration.

[I wonder if people who suggests such ideas (and the people who support such ideas) really know what it means.

First of all, the examples are irrelevant: "Mining, Engineering, and Construction".

We don't have Mining.

Engineering pays quite well, and Construction is mainly filled by foreign workers.

The proper examples for SG might well be, Hawkers, Sales persons, and Property Agents. I could be wrong. What do students who fail to get a degree go on to do in SG?

Let's take Hawkers. Obviously this is a respectable profession. 2 out of 3 hawkers (I may be generalising here) can beat a michelin-starred chef.

How much does a michelin-starred chef make and how much does a hawker make?

If we can all agree that the hawker should have a higher income (comparable to a michelin-starred chef), that would be great.

Now, - here's the reality check, this is where you put your money where your mouth (or keyboard typing fingers) is - how many of you are willing to pay $24 for a bowl of laksa so our hawkers can have a more decent wage for the job they are doing which is BETTER than a michelin-starred chef?


How about $20?


In any case the complicated argument lost most readers, and response from readers... went off on different tangents. ]

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