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Responding to the CNBC Article: Educating Asian children in ‘exam factories’ won’t equip them in the world of work

A recent article published by CNBC, titled: “Educating Asian children in ‘exam factories’ won’t equip them in the world of work” raised a very important issue – if the education systems in Asia are not currently designed to prepare our youth for the “real world”, what action can parents take now to fill the “void” in their child’s education? The article highlighted that although countries in Asia have been placing a large emphasis on improving their education rankings, “employers throughout the world report that the education system is not delivering the skills that they need.” In fact in 2015, “more than a third of global companies reported difficulties filling open positions owing to shortages of people with key skills.”

So what are the “key skills” that employers are looking for? Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of hiring at Google, says that “while good grades don’t hurt” the company is looking for softer skills too: “leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn”.” There are several ways where students can learn to absorb these softer skills – by engaging in volunteer work, getting a job and taking ownership of their role in the company, playing sport etc. to name a few. I am a huge advocate for sport. Sport is fun and especially engaging for youth. In order to be successful, an athlete must take leadership and responsibility for their work ethic and progress.

Humility is a lesson that every athlete learns in his/her career – multiple times – because nobody is perfect. Open collaboration with coaches and the willingness to adapt to different competition scenarios is what defines a successful athlete from a mediocre one. Yes, school is important, but there are many things outside the world of academia that shape an individual and prepare oneself for the “real world”. Sport, and the life skills it instills, is s fantastic way for our youth to pick up their soft skills, which may very well be the “key skills” required for them to succeed in the future workplace.

Jo Ee Kok