Is this training course 'amoral'?

by L&D14 Jun 2016

A controversial training program in Singapore has resulted in a trainee leaving the course and condemnation on social media.

As part of the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) course on effective communication, participants were given a list of 10 hypothetical staff members and were asked to decide which four to retrench.

WSQ courses are government-approved courses to help Singaporeans improve their employability.

Some of the 10 people on the list included:

  • A former priest who left the Catholic Church under questionable circumstances but who is performing well on the job.
  • A 40-year-old Indian man whose wife is dying of cancer.
  • A 35-year-old engineer who is known to be a confirmed racist.
  • A talented man with several years of service and is a homosexual.
  • A 50-year-old divorced woman who re-entered the workforce three years after raising five children.
  • A woman with very strong views, an impressive track record and has an interest in a management position.

One of the participants of the training course, Lai Yew Sin, was failed by the instructor for his refusal to complete the assessment.

A friend of Mr Lai posted on Facebook that the assessment scenario was “extremely amoral and discriminatory”.

“A friend of mine attended a WSQ course on effective communication and was appalled by the atrocious course material,” said the friend.

“So apparently, the course instructor was trying to assess the participants' ability in managing conflict and garnering consensus.

“The assessment required one to decide who to retrench based on their social backgrounds and personal circumstances.

“Retrenchment should only be based on one's work performance. This assessment scenario is not only against our values of meritocracy, it is extremely amoral and discriminatory. I have no idea what the course instructor is trying to teach here.”

The friend concluded by saying he doesn’t see why someone deserves to fail because he abstained from "such shoddy course assessment".

He added that the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) should have ample quality checks on their outsourcing of training.

A spokesperson for WDA said that the course materials would be immediately replaced.

Moreover, the course provider, Eagle Infotech Consultants, said the test "was taken out of context", and was not meant to prescribe procedures for hiring and retrenchment, according to The Straits Times. They claim that the point of it was "to teach diversity".