MTI accepts recommendations for design education

SINGAPORE - To develop a workforce that is well-versed in design - even if they work in non-design sectors - the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has accepted five recommendations from a tripartite committee, ranging from strengthening links between industry and institutes of higher learning, to supporting continuing education and training for design educators and professionals.

Following from these recommendations, a Design Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) will be formed and two pilot programmes introduced.

The Design Education Review Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Communications and Information in 2017 as part of the Design Industry Manpower Plan, released a report with its recommendations on Wednesday (July 3).

Design is "an essential skill for a future-ready workforce", said committee chairman Tan Pheng Hock.

The report noted that design talent will need "transdisciplinary skillsets", with knowledge not just in their own craft but also in business technology. Meanwhile, the broader workforce should also have design-related skills, to enable innovation.

One recommendation is to strengthen links between industry and education by forming the DEAC, comprising industry leaders from design and non-design sectors, leaders of institutes of higher learning, representatives from government agencies and international experts. This will help align education with industry needs.

A second recommendation is for students across more disciplines to have design-led creative thinking skills. A pilot programme for this will be launched in the 2019 academic year by Singapore Polytechnic, bringing together students from different disciplines for a semester-long credit-bearing module.

Third, continuing education and training programmes and incentives should be enhanced. This could take the form of more DesignSingapore scholarships and SkillsFuture study awards for designers interested in acquiring non-design skills, for example. The committee also recommends developing a common skills framework for professional development of design educators, and including design educators in the SkillsFuture study award for the design sector.

Fourth, more learning platforms where professionals can apply design thinking to real-world issues. The pilot School of X programme will be launched, for professionals from both the public and private sectors to come together in creating solutions for the community.

Finally, offering opportunities for the general public to learn about design, and apply design-led creative thinking. This could include creating more modular SkillsFuture courses under areas such as business design and experience design.

The recommendations will start being implemented in phases throughout the year.

The idea is not that everyone should be a designer, but rather that everyone should have the capabilities for design thinking, said committee co-chair Low Cheaw Hwei. He noted that even organisations such as hospitals and banks have their own design teams today.

In an increasingly competitive market, firms are realising that design will help them offer better products and services, said DesignSingapore Council executive director Mark Wee.

He cited a study of future hiring intentions which found that for every one designer hired in a creative agency, two will be sought after in non-design companies.