8 career guidance centres in polys, ITE by January

Students at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio.
Students at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio. PHOTO: ST FILE

Post-secondary students and their parents will soon have more avenues to seek advice and information on education and career paths.

By January next year, there will be a total of eight education and career guidance (ECG) centres in all polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) colleges.

Three polytechnics - Nanyang, Ngee Ann and Temasek - have already set up centres this year.

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said yesterday that, besides the eight centres, an ECG centre will open next month at the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Grange Road campus. It will be a one-stop centre for students after they collect their N-, O- and A-level results.

Mr Ng, who was speaking at an ECG seminar in Nanyang Polytechnic, said a 2009 study by the MOE found that close to half of young people here chose courses or careers without sufficient exploration.

MOE will provide support by distributing resources every year to parents, to help them guide children at key points such as Primary 6 and Secondary 2, and help students plan their next step after taking exams.

Mr Ng also told the audience of about 1,000 educators and career counsellors how he himself chose his university course, highlighting the importance of career guidance.

While his personal ambition was to be a fighter pilot, he went from choosing business administration at the National University of Singapore to considering a law degree, and eventually decided on electrical engineering.

This year, MOE deployed the first 50 ECG counsellors to secondary schools, junior colleges, the ITE and polytechnics. The number will rise to 100 by 2017.

Dr Evelyn Louis, an ECG counsellor at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), said there is now a more concerted effort by schools and institutions to help students.

"In the past, I would give advice based on personal knowledge and research, but now there is more coordination, for instance in knowing the courses at the universities and their requirements," said Dr Louis, who was previously SP's head of student and staff development.

Mrs Marcia Sng-Yong, an ECG counsellor at ITE College East, said it is important for the school to step in when students do not have enough support from home.

Some students ask if they should do an extra year at the ITE or go to polytechnic; or if 18 is the right age to start working , she said.

Some parents contacted said more guidance would be useful.

Mr Daniel Soh, 42, who has a Secondary 1 daughter, said it is a "good first step" so that students will know their options.

The managing director of an executive search firm said: "But students must also be proactive in finding out information and not (wait to) be spoon-fed. The responsibility of the counsellors is to guide and not provide jobs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline '8 career guidance centres in polys, ITE by January'. Print Edition | Subscribe