STEM Shortage in US Turning Serious

But Singapore is overflowing with non-STEM resources

It is almost impossible for any country to turn its back on foreign talent. Some skills will always be in short supply due to factors such as low population and a mismatch between learning and employment. Plus, there will be jobs that the locals will shun.© Copyright 2014 Corbis Corporation

Even the U.S. has an acute shortage of experts in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines. A CNBC report on this today points out that three million jobs in those areas will go unfilled by 2018.

There are just not enough students in the U.S. who are interested in pursuing STEM courses.

Perhaps Singapore is also facing a similar issue because the stringent school environment (O / A levels) is acting as a deterrent for students here. And Singapore is happy filling university slots for those courses with students from overseas when locals need to be encouraged to opt for STEM.

Why should Marketing, HR Talent be Scarce in Singapore?

But it is not just STEM jobs that are being grabbed by foreigners in Singapore.

Even areas such as Marketing, PR, HR, logistics and communications that fall out of the realm of, to use a banal expression, rocket science are going to the so-called foreign talent, tapping the other acronym – PMET (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).

These are skills that can be easily acquired. Still, I find Singapore importing them in large numbers in its quest to boost the country’s population and fulfil the quest of some employers, mostly multinationals, for some diversity in their workforce.

Just some easily-acquirable silly qualifications from foreign universities are enough for them to find a footing in this little red dot.

Where is meritocracy in this? Is Singapore still thinking it is a meritocratic society?

Most of these foreigners, in fact, learn the tricks of the trade only on the job after moving in here. Singapore also provides funds for them (these are open for both PRs and Singaporeans) to acquire skills through its workforce development programmes.

If indeed Singapore thinks that they are skills that require extraordinary knowledge then that is a crying shame for the country’s education system. Have Singapore’s national universities failed to equip Singaporeans with the skills needed to thrive in a world that requires them to market themselves well?

I had blogged about this through a post last year.

Singapore has to do some serious rethinking on learning and jobs at least in its golden jubilee years so as not to let its citizens down.

Singaporeans have always been open to genuine talent that is needed here, but expecting them to accept foreign mediocrity at their own expense is not fair. A tiny country where about 50% of the jobs are held by foreigners is not a happy scenario for Singapore. It may even end up with the “country of fools” tag because of the unbridled torrent of “talent” from across its seas!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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1 Comment

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One response to “STEM Shortage in US Turning Serious

  1. Pingback: Refreshing Message from PM Lee on STEM Learning | Top of the Word

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