Fast-track internship in retail sector

Charles & Keith is one of five retailers that signed an agreement yesterday with polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education to offer the Integrated Enhanced Internship and SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme.
Charles & Keith is one of five retailers that signed an agreement yesterday with polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education to offer the Integrated Enhanced Internship and SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme.ST FILE PHOTO

New SkillsFuture initiative combines internships and on-the-job training

The retail sector will be the first to get a new SkillsFuture initiative that integrates internships and on-the-job training.

Five retailers, including Charles & Keith, Cold Storage and Isetan, signed an agreement yesterday with polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to offer the Integrated Enhanced Internship and SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme, which will combine the existing EnhancedInternship, and Earn and Learnprogrammes.

At the event witnessed by Acting Education (Higher Education and Skills) Minister Ong Ye Kung, 11 other companies also signed a memorandum of understanding to offer retail students Enhanced Internships. The internships offer students industry attachments while they are still studying, and Earn and Learn allows graduates to pursue further studies while getting trained at companies.

The retail sector is the first for which the two programmes will be integrated. There are no plans as yet to do the same for other sectors.

Under the new fast track, students who complete at least 20 weeks of the Enhanced Internship may be offered employment with an industry partner under Earn and Learn. The duration of their on-the-job training will be cut from the usual 18 months for the Earn and Learn scheme to 12 months.

Nanyang Polytechnic deputy principal Henry Heng said he expects at least 80 to 100 students in the first cohort for the new initiative, which will begin around March or April this year and is for polytechnic and ITE students studying retail.

He said: "With this enhanced, longer internship, retailers will get the chance to rotate students around at least two departments or areas ofoperation, giving the students much more exposure and a more realistic and positive impression of what retail holds for them as a career."

Wing Tai Retail executive director Helen Khoo said its integrated programme would allow participants to be rotated through a range of areas, including store supervision, visual merchandising and even human resources. "We want to build a pipeline of talent to join retail, not necessarily to stay with us forever, but to raise the professionalism of the industry," she said.

Nanyang Polytechnic retail management student Josephine Ng, 22, said the fast track could allow her to rise to the position of shop manager faster than her peers.

"I think it will be a seamless experience that will benefit me, through which I can learn about areas such as omni-channel marketing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Fast-track internship in retail sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe