Demand for dietitians in Singapore has grown significantly with the ageing population here increasing. Citing Ministry of Health figures, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) said that between 2010 and 2015, the demand for dietitians in acute care increased 56 per cent.
To meet the growing need, SIT is introducing a new four-year Dietetics and Nutrition degree programme. Currently, students have to go overseas, or enrol in local private educational institutes, to earn a recognised dietetics academic qualification.
Professor Loh Han Tong, SIT's deputy president (academic) and provost, said: "Students will develop skills to be critical thinkers and have opportunities to learn alongside dietitians who are active practitioners in real-life clinical settings... Graduates will be well prepared for the role of an entry-level professional dietitian."
The programme - developed in consultation with chief dietitians from the National University Health System, National Healthcare Group and Singapore Health Services - will see students undergo a 32-week clinical practice education with various public and private healthcare institutions throughout their curriculum.
Dr Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian and senior assistant director of the dietetics department at the National University Hospital, said dietitians are key members of a hospital's multidisciplinary healthcare team.
"They assess patients and implement specific nutritional interventions in relation to their medical conditions," she added.
The programme is one of two new degrees to be introduced to meet demand in two growth areas - healthcare and aviation.
Besides the degree in dietetics, SIT will be introducing a three-year Air Transport Management programme to help meet manpower demand in the growing aviation industry. This comes amid the expansion of Changi Airport, with Terminal 4 opening last year and the upcoming Terminal 5.
The course curriculum - developed in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and aviation companies - will cover operations, management and business aspects of the air transport industry.
Prof Loh cited the Air Transport Industry Transformation Map that aims to create more than 8,000 new jobs in the sector between 2017 and 2025.
He added that the new degree will equip students with "specialised skills for various positions with the airlines, airports, ground handling agencies and aviation consultancy firms".
Both programmes are for academic year 2019/2020, and start next September.