First-year ITE students to be taught how to use digital financial tools to plan finances

ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio. A new study showed that ITE students largely spend their money on groceries and snacks, as well as dining and shopping.
ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio. A new study showed that ITE students largely spend their money on groceries and snacks, as well as dining and shopping.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A study by DBS Bank has found that Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students were better than their peers at saving their pocket money.

But they had not kept the cash for a rainy day, opting instead to set it aside for something they had been planning to buy.

The study also showed the ITE students had largely spent their money on groceries and snacks, as well as dining and shopping.

To teach first-year students the basics of budgeting and understanding their finances,  ITE,  in partnership with DBS Bank, will roll out an enhanced financial literacy curriculum from March.

Ms Low Khah Gek, ITE's chief executive, said the new curriculum will leverage the bank's strong data analytics capabilities.

"Through this, we will be able to draw insights into the spending and saving habits of the youth-adult population, including ITE students."

"The power of such analytics is that we now have new and authentic ways to engage with our students to help them understand their spending patterns and habits," she added.

The tie-up was announced on Wednesday (Jan 9) at the ITE Headquarters and officiated by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat.

Last November, the Government said that financial education will be made mandatory for all polytechnic and ITE Year 1 students from 2019.

It is part of efforts to boost financial literacy among Singaporeans and help them manage their money well.

In the DBS study conducted last year, the bank found that ITE students typically received their allowance in cash, which made it difficult for them to track their spending efficiently.

As a result, they did not have an "intimate grasp of their personal finances".

In the new DBS-ITE curriculum, students will learn about digital methods to track their finances. They will also receive more hands-on lessons on budgeting and managing their money.

Although ITE first introduced financial literacy for students in 2014, the new curriculum will expose students to digital tools.

For example, a tool in the DBS/POSB mobile application  allows users to track their spending, set and track budgets, and use personalised insights and financial advice to manage their finances.

Launched last May, this tool has more than 1.5 million active users now.

The curriculum will not be all theory. Students will have hands-on experience in creating their own financial plans with the tools. They will also have lessons that include practical examples and real life-scenarios.

The programme will be rolled out to this year's batch of 10,000 first-year students.

In his speech, Mr Chee said: "There is a need for us to work together to plug the knowledge gap through schools and tertiary institutions, and also through continuing education and training under SkillsFuture.

"We need to find ways to present complex financial concepts in an easy-to-understand manner, so that more Singaporeans know how to apply these principles to improve their personal and family finances."

A 2017 survey commissioned by MoneySense, Singapore's national financial education programme, found that half of working adults aged between 17 and 29 here had not started planning for future financial needs.

Mr Jeremy Soo, head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore) at DBS Bank, said there is a need for people to develop a "healthy relationship with money" and be responsible for their finances.

"Such habits will allow them to take charge of their financial health, plan well for the future, and reap the benefits as they progress later in life," he added.

ITE student Theodore Chong, 17, is hoping that digital tools will help him become a better saver.

"I keep my receipts and track them manually but sometimes I forget. It's easier to have it in my phone that I carry everywhere," he said.