The diamond economy

The U.S. economy resembles an hourglass with a pinched middle, writes Marc Tucker. Singapore has a diamond economy, thanks to its educated workforce.

(Singapore) built a very high floor under the entire workforce by providing a world-class academic curriculum to all their students and creating a world-class teaching force to teach that curriculum.  They built a system of polytechnics as good as any in the world to provide very highly skilled senior technical workers for a wide range of industries.  Perhaps most impressive, they created a set of post-secondary vocational schools for the bottom quarter of their students as fine as any I have seen anywhere in the world, with facilities that rival those of many American universities.  They turned vocational education and training from a dumping ground into a sought-after alternative that attracts more and more students every year.

Ninety percent of Singapore’s vocational graduates have job offers in their chosen fields within six months of graduation, Tucker writes.  Youth unemployment is very low.

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  1. Florida resident says:

    I read the article linked to by Ms. Jacobs above.

    The article in Wikipedia “Demographics of Singapore”:
    From there:
    “By end of June 2011, the island’s population stood at 5.18 million. Singapore is a multicultural country with a majority population of Chinese (74 percent), with substantial Malay (13 percent) and Indian minorities (9.2 percent).”
    That is the fact about population of Singapore,
    which first should be cited first,
    and education second.

  2. According to the CIA factbook, Singapore has a population of 5 million. It’s roughly 2/3 the size of New York City. Oh, and its population is 76.8% Chinese, 13.9% Malay, and 7.9% Indian.

    Its unemployment rate is 2%. The US unemployment rate is 9%. I think education is wonderful. On the other hand, I’m certain the graduates of Stuyvesant (72% Asian) and Thomas Jefferson (53% Asian) will be employed after college graduation. If we were to compare the education and employment outcomes for US students of Asian descent, I suspect the US would come out well.

    • Florida resident says:

      Hi, dear “cranberry” !
      How did I managed to be 1 minute before you, with almost the same statement ?
      Not being a New Yorker, I know a colleague who graduated from Stuyvesat around 1955.
      Not of chinese ethnicity though.
      Your F.r.

  3. I always cringe when I read studies about Singapore. I lived there for 3 years. It was very interesting. The kids are under a lot of pressure. It was not uncommon to see middle school kids still in their school uniforms at McDonalds studying at 10 pm. Once while on the bus (we didn’t own a car) we watched a mother quiz her young child the alphabet. Every time he was incorrect she flicked him in the forehead. This is what the kids face. Yet, for the most part the kids seemed happy. They had tremendous freedom. We had a few Singaporean friends and it was interesting to learn of the government involvement in their lives. Our taxi drivers frequently told us how lucky we were. So, all of this anecdotal “evidence” aside, I cringe because we can’t compare ourselves to a country that is so different in values and culture.

    I also wonder what percentage of the kids wanted to go to vocational school or if they couldn’t cut it in the college track so they were forced out? Wouldn’t surprise me. And I also wonder at what age this was decided for them?

    That said, the doctor who delivered my daughter studied in the US. We can’t be all bad.