Graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will have more opportunities to upgrade themselves in future, with wider pathways being opened up for them.
All Nitec graduates from ITE will have the chance to attain a higher qualification by 2030, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the increased opportunities will benefit ITE graduates who currently do not progress beyond their Nitec qualification. Today, 30 per cent of Nitec graduates fall in this category - either because they opt to remain in the workforce or fall short of the entry criteria for other courses.
To support them, MOE will provide more places in a range of programmes such as ITE's SkillsFuture Work-Study diplomas and full-time Higher Nitec courses. More places for applicants with work experience who wish to upgrade themselves will also be provided in full-time polytechnic diploma courses.
Annually, Higher Nitec courses will be able to admit 860 more students, while the work-study diploma - which allows apprentices to earn a salary while studying - will have the capacity for 580 more students. The polytechnics will also add 290 more places for working adults in their diploma courses. By 2030, about 1,700 more students will benefit from the expansion of places.
Mr Ong said there is room for ITE Nitec graduates to upgrade their skills at some point in their lives. Currently, seven in 10 graduates go on to upgrade themselves beyond the Nitec qualification over the course of their careers, he added.
According to MOE, close to half of Nitec graduates upgrade through Higher Nitec courses at ITE, while the rest upgrade through diploma programmes at the polytechnics and ITE. Eight in 10 economically active Nitec graduates find employment after completing school within six months.
MOE said that ITE's Nitec qualification prepares students to work in the relevant sectors, but as Singapore's economy transforms, industries will demand deeper skills.
"As part of the SkillsFuture movement, we would like to support all students and working adults to deepen their skills and pick up new skills over the course of their careers," it said.
Mr Ong said that beyond providing the capacity in these courses, more will be done to encourage Nitec graduates to upgrade themselves.
"Our mindset is still very much about frontloading education and backloading work. Therefore, if I, somehow, after ITE do not qualify in terms of meeting additional standards for Higher Nitec or diploma, my upgrading may stop there and I just work," he said.
These attitudes should change, he added, as the institutions become more flexible in admitting students.
"You may not qualify in terms of your GPA (grade point average) to go to polytechnic or Higher Nitec, but you can work first. And as you accumulate experience, you actually (meet) admission standards. At some point in your life, you will be able to come back and will be admitted."