Technical education system has to 'train students to be more resilient'

ITE College West students (from left) Izzat Mahad, Mohd Asyraf Mohd Zailani and Ahmad Irfan Muhd Sharif doing a project which transform heat energy into electrical energy to activate a cooling system which will make the roads less hot. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - With a rapidly-changing economy, the technical and vocational education and training system needs to be more adaptive, and train students to be more resilient to changes, said Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Education Services chief executive Bruce Poh on Friday (Aug 25).

This is because the system contributes to the backbone of Singapore's economy, said Mr Poh.

A person may take on several jobs in his lifetime and has to keep learning, he added. "The technical and vocational education and training system will grow more in the continuing education part, and students have to get used to learning, relearning, unlearning and repeating the cycle."

Mr Poh was speaking on the sidelines of the Temasek Foundation International@10 Asia Skills Leaders Forum at the ITE Headquarters and College Central. He now leads the ITE Education Services, the consulting arm of ITE set up to share its expertise with other countries.

"In Singapore, the technical and vocational education and training system is always evolving in tandem with our economic development," he said. "At every stage of development, there are new requirements and new skills needed, so our institutions have to respond accordingly."

Policymakers and leaders from 16 countries attended the four-day forum on technical education and training, which ended on Friday.

Mr Poh said Singapore is a small country, and has to rely on its only resource - people - to survive.

"It is essential that you get a good technical and vocational education and training system to produce a skilled workforce (so) companies would want to place their investments here," he said, adding that local firms also require trained workers.

Mr Poh said the Republic has achieved an "unprecedented success" in developing its technical education system, and can share its know-how with other countries.

"Many countries are also finding ways to transform their technical and vocational education and training system," he added.

He shared that the forum, organised by the ITE Education Services and Temasek Foundation International, serves as a platform for delegates to share best practices.

However, Mr Poh noted that countries will still need to make adjustments to address their own unique social and economic challenges.

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