SkillsFuture: A real and urgent need to escalate the speed of change

And finally, the conversation that I’ve hoped was sparked a decade ago, but it’s better late than never. Here’s the video Let’s Think About It – SkillsFuture as a National Movement.

Singaporeans actually live within a thick layer of very hard mould. A rather tight social fabric of expectations created by a very pragmatic past.

The question isn’t whether creating this new culture is possible or can we make it as a nation? The question is how fast can we create a new culture of creative innovation? The truth is that we are no longer dealing with the predictability of time and tide, as much as we know it waits for no man.

We are dealing with unpredictabilities brought about by the impact of technologies and innovations from all over the world. And in this hyper connected world, this impact is very immediate, real and profound.

The graph of progression isn’t linear. With technology in the driving seat, we are rather close to that point of technological exponential growth that will spark change at a higher rate.

People without a progressive mind will end up becoming irrelevant much faster than before.

The Evil Brothers: Dogma and Stigma

In order to transform ourselves at speed, we need to first and foremost focus on bringing these twin evil brothers to task.

What’s the difference between being educated and being learned? One is a de facto affair for every young mind that are born into the system. It lasts up till University for most. The other is a choice and a way of life that lasts a life time.

But now, lifelong learning must become a culture, and not a choice anymore.

We were born into sets of dogmas. For example, one that says, “with university education comes an iron rice bowl.” This is something that’s no longer true, yet it’s still preached by many parents to their children today, almost as if it’s religious truth.

A friend of mine have a son who’s been wanting to work in finance but have not been successful in landing a job in that industry. So he’s been at home doing whatever he needs to survive the erosion of youth.

One day, his father burst at him saying, “I’d rather you go flip burgers than bumping at home!” What he got in return was a very angry respond and his son’s refusal to speak to him for days. “How could you say that to me!!?” his son replied.

When I heard this story, I almost went to register a new company called “Flippin Burger.” I thought I would do that burger flippin any day if my tech-powered-startup could be flipping a thousand burgers a day. App-driven orders with close proximity delivery. The idea cooled because my hands are already full. Any takers? Do feel free because why can’t Flippin Burger be made in Singapore and spread the world over?

But first, the passion, guts and the need to kill that very real and invisible stigma that certain work are considered of lower status than others. We need to redefine how success and respect is underlined in this country. We need to start celebrating new manifestations of success and at the same time create ways to squash the stigma of failure.

Lee Hsien Loong in his previous National Day Rally did something I thought was a really good start. He showcased real life examples of successful individuals who have been progressive and hardworking but did not have University degrees. It was really inspiring.

But we need more - a whole lot more of these stories told. Real stories and examples will embolden people and inspire actions. Without which, it would be futile to expect generations of people in a culture of fear of failure to think and act differently.

An idea cannot be killed. It can only be replaced by better ones.

Not only do we need change, but we need to escalate the speed of change. How urgent is this? Very! IMHO.


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