Non-degree Holders Can Have Successful Career and Become Senior Management

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SINGAPORE: Human resource practitioners say non-degree holders can have a successful career and a shot at senior management positions if they continue to upgrade themselves. The Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) observed in particular that local companies are more open-minded about hiring workers without a degree compared to global firms.

In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cited Keppel Offshore & Marine as an example of a company that values workers and helps them develop skills to advance in their careers, whether they have a degree or not.

Said SHRI President Mr Erman Tan: “Local bosses are more open-minded. Part of the reason for that is they face the challenge of recruiting talent and they are more open-minded in the sense that they believe on-the-job training, they believe in grooming them. From there, they build bonding with the employee and the employee would typically grow with the organisation. Local SMEs also believe in long-term relationships. They see that on-the-job training and job performance count more than paper qualifications.”

SHRI says employers also look for other important attributes like relevant experience, a proven track record, people skills and leadership qualities, as well as the individual’s ability to work in a team. The institute notes that global MNCs may not be as flexible because they could be tied to a more prescribed global HR policy.

“I think a lot employers still use paper qualifications as a filtering process,” said Mr Tan. “Typically the employer tends to give those with a degree priority. Part of the reason is because in the selection process they have to filter out some candidates, and one of the more convenient ways to filter out people is to base selection on qualifications. Unfortunately that is still the practice at this moment.”

However, there are some positions that require a degree. HR consultancy Robert Walters cites certain roles within the finance industry as an example, but says there are opportunities for non-degree-holders to take on jobs at the more operational level.

Said Joanne Chua, Associate Director, HR, Business Support, Robert Walters: “Steps must be taken along the way where training and development is being provided by the organisation, whether internally and externally, to up-skill the capabilities of these individuals. Because they may be technically savvy in a particular area, such as fixing of aero turbines, but when the individual is expected to step up to take on a managerial or leadership role, then that’s where the up-skilling of qualifications would be required.”

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