Graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) can, for the first time, take up a new diploma awarded by the institution, starting from April next year.
The Work-Learn Technical Diploma programme, first announced in Parliament in March, will allow them to work and study at the same time. Up to 120 places across four courses - marine and offshore engineering, mechanical and electrical services supervision, rehabilitation care, and security systems engineering - will be offered for the first intake.
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung announced details of the new technical diploma yesterday at the ITE graduation ceremony, likening it to an apprenticeship stint.
"Trainees will develop skills mastery through hands-on training and practice, grounded in deep knowledge of their employer's operations," he said. "With this knowledge, they will be better placed to become masters in their trade, and rise through the ranks."
The programmes will last 21/2 to three years, with 70 per cent of the curriculum time set aside for on-the-job training.
In his speech, Mr Ong also said more ITE graduates have been able to find jobs, and their salaries have gone up over the years.
Citing the latest ITE graduate employment survey last year, he told the 711 graduates at the ceremony that almost 87 per cent of their seniors had secured jobs within six months of graduating last year, up by 3.5 percentage points from 2015.
87% Percentage of ITE graduates who secured jobs within six months of graduating last year.
From 2012 to last year, the median salaries of ITE graduates also increased by 20 per cent from about $1,500 to $1,800, and for the first time, the median starting salaries of graduates who finished national service reached $2,000.
"The overall signal is that your skills continue to be valued by employers, and the upward trend will likely continue, so long as we keep the training focused and relevant, and our students continue to be eager to learn," said Mr Ong.
With this new technical course, he said ITE graduates can apply for a diploma based on ITE's criteria, which will focus on employers' recommendations instead of purely academic grades. Similar to the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programmes, employers will play a key role in developing and delivering the curriculum. Trainees will also receive an income while learning.
ITE already offers specialised diplomas in areas like culinary arts, but these are conferred by its foreign partner institutions.
ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said it will be an additional avenue for ITE graduates to upgrade their skills and advance in their careers. "With most of the skills learnt through actual learning and practice in industry, we will develop a new generation of skilled workforce which truly understands the job requirements of industry."
For a start, employers such as ST Electronics, Certis Cisco, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Sembcorp Marine, St Luke's ElderCare and Awwa have come on board.
Ms Nuryasmin Hannah, Awwa's human resource director, said the technical diploma in rehabilitation care will provide regular on-the-job training for students, allowing them to "apply what they have learnt in class in their work".
Registration for the courses will be from Nov 27 to Feb 2 next year.