Entering the Workforce as a Diploma Holder

By Desiree Yang

In Singapore, choosing to enter the workforce without a degree is often considered the road less travelled, especially as the majority of society has come to see the paper chase as the only way to guarantee any form of financial security in the future. Many diploma holders also find it hard to enter a local university and have to turn to private education institutions or venture overseas.

In fact, this fixation on educational qualifications spurred Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan to comment in May last year, “You own a degree, but so what? You can't eat it. If (it) cannot give you a good life (or) a good job, it is meaningless… can you have a whole country where 100 per cent are graduates? I am not so sure… what you do not want is to create huge graduate unemployment.”

So perhaps you feel that taking up a degree isn’t your cup of tea (perhaps you can’t afford the tuition fees at a private university or you simply ahbor the idea of more mugging). The question that you might be asking yourself is, “How will entering the workforce as a diploma-holder benefit me?”

As mentioned above, full-time mugging isn’t for everyone. Some individuals thrive under the demands and stimulation that comes with an environment that exists beyond the confines of the classroom, and this environment is just what they need to maximise their potential.

This is especially true for individuals who find their creativity being dampened by the monotonous rhythm of school or find the structure of school to be suffocating. If you’re such an individual, the work experience you gain (while your peers are slogging away in school) can help you gain a better understanding of the demands of a modern working career and help you better manage your career expectations.

Entering the working world without a degree isn’t a path that excludes all others; if and when you, the diploma-holder, choose to pursue a degree after securing a few years of working experience under your belt, chances are that you’ll enter university as a more driven individual.

First and foremost, you’ll probably pick a major or course of study based on what you’re truly passionate about, not a childhood dream. In turn, you are more likely to excel in your studies and not end up with a ‘garden variety’ degree that would limit your career and life opportunities…

The Tides, They are A-Changing
…After all, the success or failure of your working career depends very heavily on how well you begin it. In the US, it was reported that although the unemployment rate for graduates in 2013 was less than 4 per cent, the more worrying issue was actually the underemployment of graduates.

In a McKinsey & Co. study, more than half of surveyed graduates were found to be holding jobs that didn’t require a degree. So maybe it is time for us to quit operating with the notion that only graduates hold higher paying jobs than non-graduates, for the tides are a-changing and this orthodox way of thinking may not hold water in the future!

What are your thoughts on entering the workforce as a diploma holder? Would you ever consider setting up one? Share with us in the comment box below!

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