Poly grads start to Earn and Learn under new scheme

(From left) Mr Muhammad Nazmi Mohamed Zaaini, 23, Ms Tan Li Qi and Ms Brenda Cheng Bifeng, both 21, are part of the first batch of polytechnic graduates in the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn scheme. They started classes at Republic Poly yesterday. The 1
(From left) Mr Muhammad Nazmi Mohamed Zaaini, 23, Ms Tan Li Qi and Ms Brenda Cheng Bifeng, both 21, are part of the first batch of polytechnic graduates in the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn scheme. They started classes at Republic Poly yesterday. The 12-month programme, which sees participants working from Mondays to Thursdays and attending classes on Fridays, leads to a specialist diploma in supply chain management.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The first batch of polytechnic graduates taking part in a programme that allows them to work in logistics while furthering their studies started classes at Republic Polytechnic (RP) yesterday.

The 12-month programme, which is part of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn scheme launched in March, leads to a specialist diploma in supply chain management. It enrolled 39 out of 59 applicants.

Applicants need to be hired by firms as full-time staff before they can be enrolled, said assistant director Soh Lai Seng, who is in charge of the academic programme at RP.

"We make sure they have a relevant diploma, then we let companies decide who they want to hire," he said.

Under the Earn and Learn scheme, students work from Mondays to Thursdays and attend classes on Fridays. Their monthly salary of $1,800 to $2,000 matches that of a polytechnic graduate who is starting work. Participants also get a $5,000 bonus.

To ensure that the lessons are fortified by industry relevance, companies are required to provide on-the-job training. Students will be supervised closely at work and by their lecturers so that they will be able to integrate theory and practice to develop deep specialist skills.

They will also take on a project related to their company operations so that they get to apply what they learn to solve real-life problems.

Mr Ong Swee Keong, general manager of Yang Kee Logistics, which has six employees under the scheme, said: "We want to give them solid training."

Ms Angelinena Song, general manager of Yusen Logistics' human resource department, hopes the scheme can be a "good pipeline for talent", so as to ease the manpower crunch. Yusen has taken on four workers under the scheme.

Ms Tan Li Qi, 21, who holds a diploma in industrial operations management from RP, initially wanted to pursue a degree in business management, but changed her mind because "it was too general".

"With a specialist diploma, I can gain more industry knowledge and become more confident when I talk to clients," she said.

Currently, sectors such as retail, food manufacturing and precision engineering are covered under the Earn and Learn scheme. The aim is to get one in three Institute of Technical Education and polytechnic graduates on board by 2025.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Poly grads start to Earn and Learn under new scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe