More options for poly grads to earn and learn

3 deals allow poly or work experience and modules to count as credits towards degree

Polytechnic graduates will have more options to continue learning while working, thanks to three agreements inked yesterday under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP).

The first deal was between all five polytechnics and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

Specialist diploma holders from certain programmes will be able to use their relevant polytechnic experience to account for up to 20 credit units towards an SUSS bachelor's degree. This is an expansion of earlier credit recognition agreements.

SUSS requires 130 credit units for a basic degree and 170 for an honours degree.

Temasek Polytechnic (TP) also signed separate agreements with SUSS and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

TP graduates with a diploma will be able to pursue three new ELPs - in building services, facilities and events management, and infocommunications technology - that let them shave off as much as a year from their undergraduate studies at SUSS or SIT.

They can take SUSS or SIT modules while working and their on-the-job training can go towards SIT's work-study requirement or be recognised as credit units at SUSS.

At the end of these programmes, they will be eligible for a specialist diploma through the tie-up with SIT or a certificate of completion for modules with SUSS.

The work or study credits are for SIT's sustainable infrastructure engineering (building services) degree or, at SUSS, the facilities and events management, and information and communication technology degrees.

Other local universities also already have module exemptions or transfer credits for relevant polytechnic diplomas.

TP has teamed up with 15 companies that have agreed to place and train its graduates, and is on the hunt for more partners. The employers will be flexible with the graduates' time so they can attend classes.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who is also Second Minister for Defence, witnessed the agreements being signed. He said in an off-the-cuff address: "Really, it is to drive home the point that when we study, it is really preparing ourselves for work."

Mr Ong added: "We will continue to join the dots between polytechnics, between universities. The integration and the collaboration with industries is getting stronger."

SIT associate provost of SkillsFuture and staff development Ho Yew Kee also weighed in. "Since this degree programme and ELP basically tap the same pool of employees, we just align all the tracks and travel together," he said.

TP graduate Fu Deqi, 20, is keen to try the ELP. She will be joining Exceltec Property Management, one of TP's industry partners, in July.

"If you go on to university and study full-time, you will just get the knowledge and not be able to apply it directly," said the integrated facility management diploma holder.

Exceltec director Mervyn Lim, 58, welcomed the work component of the ELP. "As an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise), we have difficulty in getting locals to work for us," he said. "The only thing is to bring in local people, train them up... and keep them as long as we can."

Said TP principal and chief executive Peter Lam: "These collaborations are indicative of our commitment to the SkillsFuture movement.

"They underscore the dedication of the polytechnics and universities to ensuring that Singaporeans are employable over the course of their working life, and have access to opportunities to realise their potential."

Correction note: In a previous version of the article,  Ho Yew Kee was wrongly stated to be from SUSS instead of SIT. This has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'More options for poly grads to earn and learn'. Print Edition | Subscribe