Poly, ITE students cite 'earn and learn' as main draws of SkillsFuture scheme

The monthly pay and job rotation are the main reasons that polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students would sign up for a new programme that gives them work experience as they study for advanced qualifications.

If not for these, they may choose to further their studies full-time or enter the job market, rather than hone their skills in a specific sector, the students said.

The new Earn and Learn initiative is among the Government's series of measures to help workers develop industry-relevant skills.

Under the new scheme, participants will be paid around $2,000 a month while being rotated among various roles in their chosen fields.

Temasek Polytechnic student Peck Yi Ning, 20, who plans to pursue a degree in maritime studies, said she would join the scheme if a maritime logistics firm offered her a job, as it would give her a head start in her career.

She said: "The pay is equivalent to what a poly graduate will receive and the job rotation allows you to be exposed to all the operations of a company."

Nanyang Polytechnic student Cynthia Tan, 23, said the new scheme offers job seekers a better deal than if they were to search for their own positions.

The monthly salary and career progression "are definitely plus points", said the final-year business management student who intends to join the scheme.

Sakae Holdings chairman Douglas Foo, 45, who was part of a committee that proposed the scheme, said: "If the students were to go out and find jobs on their own, they may have to prove their commitment to the job before their employers are willing to invest in training them.

"But under the new scheme, companies are committed to grooming their employees."

Several hundred students are likely to join the 12- to 18-month scheme when it starts in April.

A graduate may work for four days and study for one day. At the end of the scheme, an ITE graduate will receive a diploma, while a polytechnic graduate will obtain an advanced or specialist diploma.

The scheme will start with employers in four areas - logistics, food manufacturing, food and beverage, and retail. Other sectors will be included later.

Participating companies will receive grants of up to $15,000 per trainee to offset their costs.

While they are worried that trainees may quit after completing the programme, they said that it will go some way towards easing the manpower crunch.

Mr Christopher Tan, managing director of Thai restaurant Nara Cuisine, who plans to sign up, said: "As a business owner, I have to utilise anything at my disposal to grow and groom manpower."

Hardware store Home-Fix's founder, Mr Low Cheong Kee, 51, who has signed up, intends to use the grants to automate the training process, which is now still done using pen and paper.

He said: "This will free up the trainers to conduct more courses or observe the employees in the retail shops."



Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.