MOE to ramp up workplace learning for students; work-study path for 12% of each student cohort by 2030

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the mastery of skills is what makes an employee adaptable. ST PHOTO: MARCELLIN LOPEZ

HEIDELBERG • The Ministry of Education (MOE) is targeting for 12 per cent of every student cohort to go through the work-study pathway by 2030.

The move to ramp up workplace learning for students was announced by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in Heidelberg, Germany, yesterday.

Mr Ong, who is part of the delegation for President Halimah Yacob's state visit to Germany, said a reversion to basics across industries can be seen today, owing to widespread technological disruption.

For the education sector, this means the apprenticeship model, which is the transfer of skills, wisdom and values from master to disciple.

"With the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and the advent of robots, what workers need are the basics: skills," he said.

"People sometimes have the wrong idea that (the apprenticeship) system is rigid and inflexible. I think, to the contrary, that the mastery of skills, and especially the basic core competencies, is what makes somebody adaptable in the face of changes.

"This will be Singapore's version of dual education and will be a mainstream pathway where we learn from Germany," he added.

Germany's apprenticeship system is held in high regard around the world.

Heidelberg is in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, which is known for its strong dual education system where companies and educational institutions work in tandem to teach students over three years. Students often go on to work full time at the companies they train at.

Mr Ong was speaking at the premises of electrical equipment company ABB Stotz in Heidelberg, where a joint declaration between MOE and the Baden-Wurttemberg Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on vocational education and training cooperation was made. The declaration is an extension of a collaboration that began in 1991.

"Partnerships like this are invaluable to Singapore in the reform of our education system in preparation of a new future," Mr Ong said.

Half of the 14 memorandums of understanding and agreements being signed during the state visit are in education.

The Institute of Technical Education launched its work-study diplomas in April last year to give ITE graduates an alternative pathway to upskill themselves. In-service employees at companies who are part of the programme can also enrol.

The work-study stints typically last between 2½ and three years, with 70 per cent of curriculum time conducted at the workplace.

Last month, the ITE added 10 new diplomas to its work-study programme, bringing the total course offerings to 24.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2019, with the headline MOE to ramp up workplace learning for students; work-study path for 12% of each student cohort by 2030. Subscribe