New NTU college to run 28 courses to boost workers' skills

Minister Chan Chun Sing, Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), speaking during the May Day Rally 2016 at Downtown East, on May 1, 2016.
Minister Chan Chun Sing, Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), speaking during the May Day Rally 2016 at Downtown East, on May 1, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has set up a college to help adult workers upgrade their skills and take on new jobs in a rapidly changing economy.

The College of Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) will work with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to develop courses for working adults, including professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).

The new college will offer 28 undergraduate-level courses for part-time study starting in August, but NTU provost Freddy Boey said this will be ramped up significantly from next year onwards.

The classes will be held at NTU or on NTUC premises around the city.

Announcing the tie-up at the May Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "NTUC knows what workers need and how to get workers moving. NTU has the expertise in continuous education, training older people, and technology-enabled learning, reaching out to people who are physically not in the university." The venture aims to reach out to 30,000 people a year, he said.

This is the first time that NTUC is partnering an institute of higher learning, said labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who added that the labour movement hopes to work with more of these institutes to offer a wider range of courses to workers.

The three-month courses will be offered in key growth sectors, including digital electronics, molecular genetics and enterprise and innovation. Selected in consultation with employers and industry, courses are drawn from NTU's undergraduate degree programmes. Learners will get academic credits, which can be accumulated to qualify for a specialist certificate or degree.

NTU said PaCE will also offer personal development and enrichment courses in areas ranging from creative thinking to financial management. NTU and NTUC are also identifying more courses to meet the needs of groups such as business owners, as well as freelancers and the self-employed.

SkillsFuture credits can be used to offset course fees, and NTUC members will enjoy an additional subsidy of up to $250 a year under the Union Training Assistance Programme.

This means an NTUC member who is a Singaporean PME above 40 years old, for example, needs to pay only around $100 for a course with a $1,350 fee, after union and SkillsFuture subsidies.

With the Government giving a 1:3 matching grant of up to $150 million, NTUC is looking at injecting an additional $200 million into its Education and Training Fund to encourage workers to embrace continuous lifelong learning, Mr Chan said.

The PaCE courses will be taught online and offline, using the "flipped classroom pedagogy" where students study course material online before meeting their classmates and professors for discussions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'New NTU college to run 28 courses to boost workers' skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe