SINGAPORE - Graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) can, for the first time, take up a new diploma that will be awarded by the institution.
The Work-Learn Technical Diploma programme, which will be offered from April next year (2018), will allow them to work and study at the same time.
Up to 120 places across four courses - marine and offshore engineering, mechanical and electrical services supervision, rehabilitation care, and security systems engineering - will be offered for the first intake.
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung announced these details of the new technical diploma on Tuesday (July 25) at an ITE graduation ceremony, likening the course to an apprenticeship programme.
"Trainees will develop skills mastery through hands-on training and practice, grounded in deep knowledge of their employer's operations," he said.
"With this knowledge, they will be better placed to become masters in their trade, and rise through the ranks."
The programmes will last between 2½ and three years, with 70 per cent of curriculum time being used for on-the-job training.
Mr Ong said ITE graduates can now apply for a diploma based on ITE's criteria, which will focus on employers' recommendations instead of purely academic grades like the traditional full-time polytechnic diplomas.
The new diploma will be similar to the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programmes, whereby employers play a key role in developing and delivering the curriculum.
In a press release, ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said that the new diploma programmes will be an additional avenue for ITE graduates to upgrade skills and advance in their careers.
"With most of the skills learnt through actual learning and practice in industry, we will develop a new generation of skilled workforce which truly understands the job requirements of industry," she said.
For a start, employers such as ST Electronics, Certis Cisco, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Sembcorp Marine, St Luke's Eldercare and Awwa have come onboard.
Registration for the diploma programmes will start from Nov 27 to Feb 2 next year.
In his address to 711 graduates at the ceremony, Mr Ong also said that more ITE graduates have been able to find jobs, and their salaries have gone up over the years.
Citing results from the latest ITE graduate employment survey in 2016, he said almost 87 per cent of the institution's graduates secured jobs within six months of graduating last year, up by 3.5 percentage points from 2015.
From 2012 to 2016, the median salaries of ITE graduates also increased by 20 per cent from about $1,500 to $1,800, and for the first time the median starting salaries for graduates who finished national service reached $2,000.
"The overall signal is that your skills continue to be valued by employers, and the upward trend will likely continue, so long as we keep the training focused and relevant, and our students continue to be eager to learn," said Mr Ong.