ITE's new youth development centre aims to help students hit career bullseye

SINGAPORE - Darts, wedding planning and outdoor events management are the first three courses on offer at Aptitude, a new youth development centre officially opened at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East on Thursday.

Launched in conjunction with Touch Community Services, the Simei centre was opened by Minister of State for Education & Communications Ms Sim Ann and aims to help ITE students develop their interests into career skills, give them more career options and increase their employability.

Each interest group is run by a different company and others are being planned for later this year.

They begin with an exploratory workshop lasting four to six weeks, followed by a more in-depth training lasting two to four months. Students who do well will get chances to do internships, job attachments and apprenticeships, as well as take part in competitions and be certified for the skills they learn.

ITE College East principal Dr Yek Tiew Ming told The Straits Times that as well as "hard skills" taught in workshops and classrooms, students also need soft skills such as the ability to "connect with people". He added that the centre's model of "developing students' interests and passion into strengths and relevant skill sets" is in line with the Government's SkillsFuture movement.

About 15 ITE students have been receiving darts coaching once a week since April. Organisers say it teaches them skills like discipline and communication between partners.

Touch Community Services executive director Eugene Seow said the programme also helps students build "resilience and perseverance". He added: "It might just seem like playing darts, but what we've allowed them to experience is this idea of going all the way, being committed."

Spellbound Weddings owner Anna Lim said her course includes aspects such as etiquette, design and starting a business. Apart from event planning skills, she said she hoped to teach students to "think out of the box".

WOW Experience trainer Faith Chong said her workshop trains students in event planning and customer service. Her company will also offer internships and employment opportunities.

ariellim@sph.com.sg