Parents, Here’s What’s Going to Stress Your Teenager Out In The Near Future

Parents, Here’s What’s Going to Stress Your Teenager Out In The Near Future

Dear Parents with Teenage Children,

Does the recent news about unemployed Singaporeans worry you? With thousands of people getting laid off at an alarming rate, the number of jobseekers now outweigh the number of jobs in the market. This is largely due to one reason: The Skill Gap between what the fresh graduates are proficient in and what is expected of them in new roles in an ever-changing workforce.

“How can we prepare our teenage children for a bright future, if good academic results no long guarantee success?”

With school curriculum focusing mostly on academics, teenagers often find themselves confused and struggling on their own as they transit to their next milestone.

We spoke to recent university graduates as they recount the 3 most stressful moments in their teenage lives.

1. O-Levels / A-Levels

Moving forward from secondary school, students are presented with many paths to choose from. With Direct School Admission (DSA) and “through-train” programmes, many students are given a seat in their school of choice based on CCA records and leadership qualities.

Some students who did not pursue leadership roles are left feeling like “underperformers” next to their outstanding peers. Some students with plain portfolios lament why they did not start earlier. “If only I knew of the importance of leadership skills, I would have lived my school life differently.”

Does your teenager have the confidence and charisma to run for a leadership position in school? Is he aware of how his actions (or inaction) impact his education opportunities few years down the road?

2. University Admission

Universities around the world now include non-academic criteria in their admission requirements. For example, Stanford takes into account “employment and life experiences”; while University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine considers personal qualities and skills including “empathy, interpersonal relationships and ability to communicate, as well as social involvement and leadership”. Back home in Singapore, about 15 percent more places have opened up at NUS, NTU and SMU based on non-academic criteria like leadership skills and voluntary work.

Interviews are also a big part of admission criteria. Say we have two candidates, Jeremy and Dave, vying for the same university slot. Jeremy scores straight A’s for A-Levels or a 3.9 GPA in polytechnic; while Dave scores a mixture of A’s and B’s, or has a lower GPA. Will Jeremy win? Not definitely. Dave still stands a high chance over Jeremy if he has a solid portfolio and impresses at the interview!

With university entry requirements rapidly evolving, students with a blank “track record” face the harsh possibility of losing their course of choice to a peer who has better leadership skills.

Imagine a child who has worked hard all her life to get into her dream school, only to fail the admission interview because she “did not display the ability to lead”!

3. Landing their First Job

A degree will only put your child’s resume into a pile of hundreds other resumes with similar qualifications. To catch the eye of the interviewer, and subsequently their bosses, your child needs a clear personal branding.

The challenge is, most youths do not know what makes them shine. Ask a teenager, “What is your strength?”, and they would probably reply with a school subject like “I’m good at Maths.” And we all know that’s not what the bosses are looking out for.

More than just “hard skills”, today’s employers value 21st-century skills such as emotional management, critical thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to add value to their organisation.

Many of these skills cannot be learnt through textbooks but through real-world authentic experiences. How many teenagers have actually taken on part-time jobs, have started up an entrepreneurial venture or have embarked on voluntary work or projects

Do you think your teenager is equipped for the above challenges few years down the road? More importantly, how can we prepare them in advance, so that they don’t struggle or get burnt out when it’s time to transit to their next big stage in life?

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