TSMP Law Corporation joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio commented in a Sunday Times story published on 27 September 2020 on the strengths needed for the Singapore worker in order to thrive in the new economy.
She believes that even though changes are happening, the structure of the grades-focused education system needs to evolve faster to ensure soft skills are not marginalised.
“Our system churns out math geniuses, not problem-solvers. That, if anything, is our new stumbling block,” she maintains.
She recalls how she had to read 20 cases a week for a subject when she was a law student in Singapore, while friends studying law in the United Kingdom read about five a week.
“They could get much deeper into analysis and problem-solving, whereas Singapore students would be grappling just to absorb all the data. This does not build up critical thinking. That is changing but needs to pivot faster,” she says.
The emphasis on grades in society also breeds a “certain entitlement mentality” among workers, adds Ms Yuen-Thio.
“(It is) as if the system inculcates an attitude that ‘if I work this hard in school and score this grade, I should do this well in life’,” she notes. “That’s a dangerous mindset to take through life, especially in a world where… (there is) a hugely accelerated rate of change.”