Singapore employers urged to look beyond degrees in hiring

Skills-based hiring recommended for employers by panel of experts

Singapore employers urged to look beyond degrees in hiring

Employers across Singapore are being urged to hire candidates based on skills — despite persistent preferences for educational qualifications, according to reports.

This was the message in a panel discussion hosted by Accredify earlier this month, which gathered various experts who discussed the importance of looking beyond degrees in hiring practices, GovInsider reported.

"We need to look away from hiring someone based on the job description, to what they can do to boost the competencies and capabilities of the organisation," said Zuhui Yap, HR Director with Singtel, in the report.

The call from the panellists comes as more employers shift to skills-based hiring, where candidates are screened based on their ability to perform the job based on a series of skills-based tests or exercises.

Skills Frameworks in Singapore

In Singapore, the government launched in 2016 the Skills Frameworks, which provides key sector information, occupations/job roles, and the required existing and emerging skills for them.

"Skills Framework is also developed with the objectives to build deep skills for a lean workforce, enhance business competitiveness and support employment and employability," the Skills Future website read.

Yap praised the framework, noting that it "properly defines the skills and learning outcomes."

Patrice Choong, Chief Data Officer of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, also said the framework acts as a "common language" across different sectors for evaluating skills.

But to promote skills-based hiring in Singapore, the panellists said it would take collaboration between employers, adult learning providers, and educators.

"It is very important for companies to take part in the talent development phase. A long time ago, the company was responsible for developing talent, but today it has to be a joint effort because the industry demands move extremely fast," Choong said as quoted by GovInsider.

Micro credentials for hiring

According to Yap, it is also important that skills are verifiable, quantifiable, and comparable, suggesting that micro credentials as a way for workers to showcase their skills.

Micro-credentials are an emerging hiring preference across the world as employers shift to more skills-based hiring, previous research has revealed.

Singapore is one of the countries across the world where employers continue to put emphasis on degrees, according to a survey from BCG in 2023, which was also cited by the panel.

This comes while there are 2.5 vacancies for every unemployed person in Singapore, according to the Singapore Institute of Management.

"Employers must look to widen the talent pool by going beyond the convention of looking at education qualifications," the institute previously said.

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