SINGAPORE - Training provider Kaplan Professional has been barred from conducting any Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses for 12 months - its second suspension since last December, after further audit checks uncovered serious lapses.
Announcing the move in a statement on Tuesday (June 11), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) said Kaplan Professional's accreditation as an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) will be revoked.
Funding from SSG will also cease for all their WSQ courses for the same period, which start from July 1.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, SSG said revocation of Kaplan Professional's ATO status means it will not be automatically reinstated after the suspension period.
"They may choose to re-apply for ATO status after the suspension period of 12 months, upon which SSG will assess if Kaplan Professional has sufficiently addressed all performance gaps identified when evaluating their application," said the agency.
The Straits Times understands Kaplan Professional will not be required to return any funding previously received from SSG, and certificates that were awarded before the suspension period will remain valid.
The training provider - a division of private school Kaplan Singapore - had earlier been told to stop offering some of its WSQ Leadership and People Management courses from Dec 1, after some trainers were found to have flouted SSG's guidelines on assessment practices.
Kaplan Singapore has three campuses here and is one of at least three training providers that have received approval to offer the WSQ Leadership and People Management courses.
Associate Professor Rhys Johnson, chief operating officer and provost of Kaplan Singapore, told ST in December that students had been given the same assessment questions used in prior group discussions for their tests.
There were also cases where trainers had directed trainees to where assessment answers could be found in their learning materials.
Prof Johnson said that after an internal investigation, a few trainers had been de-registered and were no longer allowed to conduct courses with Kaplan Professional.
It had been offering courses under the WSQ Leadership and People Management framework since 2013.
It has since "put in extra measures", such as having more unannounced classroom visits by staff, where the conduct of the training and assessments are monitored.
On Tuesday, SSG said it had conducted further investigations and audit checks into Kaplan Professional's delivery of other WSQ courses in March.
"In view of the serious lapses by Kaplan Professional, SSG has decided to suspend its approved training organisation status," it said in a statement.
No further details were given of the nature of the lapses.
Prof Johnson told ST on Tuesday: "We are disappointed that such instances occurred despite a rigorous programme implemented over past months aimed at ensuring such non-compliance could not occur for WSQ courses.
"All other courses will operate as per normal and will continue to be taught to the stringent standards Kaplan and its partners expect."
An external trainer, who teaches a Leadership and People Management course, said it was a pity to "pull the plug on this programme".
"It is open to people who may not have secondary school qualifications. It lets them obtain a diploma and thus is very motivating for them."
"It gives them a place to socialise and network."
Between 2008 and 2017, the Kaplan Learning Institute, which houses Kaplan Professional, has awarded more than 225,000 professional certificates.
SSG said Kaplan Professional should continue teaching participants who are enrolled in WSQ courses that will be completed by June 30.
It will be required to place participants who are enrolled in courses scheduled to begin after June 30 with other WSQ-approved training organisations.
In the statement, SSG also said it takes a serious view of individuals, training providers or organisations that do not adhere to its guidelines, and will not hesitate to take action against them.
The WSQ scheme is the national credential system that trains and certifies individuals in skills that are validated by employers, unions and professional bodies.
WSQ programmes are funded and quality-assured by SSG, which awards the WSQ certifications.
Those with information on such offenders can go to www.ssg.gov.sg/feedback
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.