INSTITUTE of Technical Education and polytechnic graduates will get a boost to help them match their skills to the right jobs and move up in their careers, with the setting up of a tripartite committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for this purpose.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed in his rally yesterday that a university degree need not be the only route to a fulfilling career for young Singaporeans.

Having relevant and deep skills can also lead to good jobs that pay well - this lies at the heart of recommendations drawn up by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee.

Mr Tharman's committee, which will involve the Government, employers and unions, will put in place the integrated system of education, training and career progression for all Singaporeans as suggested by the Aspire team. It will also harness industry support and social recognition for people to advance based on skills.

Mr Lee noted that drawing up work and study paths for all students on a national scale will not be an easy task, as it involves many stakeholders - students, parents, government agencies, employers and unions.

Young Singaporeans must be persuaded that there are other ways to deepen skills and knowledge and advance their careers.

"Don't go on a paper chase for qualifications or degrees, especially if they're not relevant," Mr Lee said, adding that pathways and opportunities to upgrade will remain open throughout their careers.

Calling it a "culture shift", he said: "Singapore must always be a place where everyone can feel proud of what they do, and is respected for their contributions and character, where anyone can improve his life if he works hard, and everyone can hope for a better future."