20% pay jump for first 2 batches of ITE work-study diploma graduates

Mr Norheesham Rahmat, who graduated in 2021, received a sizeable pay increment after finishing the ITE work-study diploma. PHOTO: ITE

SINGAPORE - Diploma pathways created by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) have given graduates better pay and work prospects, said its chief executive Low Khah Gek on Thursday (June 30).

Those who attended the work-study diploma programme - under which employers work with ITE to train its graduates - had an average pay increase of 20 per cent, based on the first two cohorts who graduated in 2020 and 2021.

Close to 92 per cent of them remained in the same industry, while 85 per cent stayed on with their employers.

In a speech at ITE's 30th anniversary celebrations on Thursday, Ms Low said that the post-secondary institution has transformed vocational education as it strives for better student and graduate outcomes.

"The ITE of today is unrecognisable from that of 1992," she said. "Perhaps the most visible change has to be our three mega campuses - ITE College East, West and Central."

Ms Low credited the change from 10 small satellite campuses to to three mega-campuses to Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, who mooted the idea when he was minister for education from 1997 to 2003.

Mr Teo, who is Coordinating Minister for National Security, was the guest of honour at Thursday's event at the ITE headquarters in Ang Mo Kio.

Ms Low said the changes that ITE has made over the past three decades have always been with students in mind.

"We keep a close tab on economic and industry developments as well as changing job roles and skills demand. Over the years, we have constantly reviewed and made changes to our Nitec and Higher Nitec courses so as to enable our graduates to secure good jobs and build their careers."

One recent significant shift is to have all ITE students graduate with Higher Nitec, whether in two or three years, to give them a stronger foundation and deeper skills. This transition will be done over a few years and be completed in 2026, she said.

"We have also considered our students' longer term plans and hopes. Many of our graduates aspire to go further in their education and career - to achieve a diploma (or further) as well as to take on higher responsibilities at work," said Ms Low.

"While a number of ITE graduates progress to the polytechnics, there are still much unrealised aspirations."

Ms Low said ITE will work with overseas partners to offer more specialised technical diplomas. It currently has about 200 students across three such programmes, developed with internationally renowned institutions between 2008 to 2010.

The work-study diploma - which gives ITE graduates an alternative pathway to upgrade themselves with the bulk of learning at the workplace - has also had positive outcomes, she added.

The institute now offers 36 such diplomas involving more than 400 companies and 1,884 trainees, up from four diplomas, 41 companies and an intake of 109 trainees in 2018.

"We are grateful to the employers for believing in the potential of ITE graduates, enabling their skills upgrading, and supporting them to take on higher responsibilities at work and achieve career progression," said Ms Low.

Mr Norheesham Rahmat, 29, who graduated last year with ITE's work-study diploma in marine and offshore engineering, said he joined the programme as it allowed him to work and study at the same time.

"I learn better by doing. And because I managed to move around different departments in my company, I gained hands-on experience. So it was easy for me to absorb content, as everything (there was) in the textbook, I have done in real life," he said.

Starting out as a technician in Keppel Offshore and Marine nine years ago, he was promoted to assistant planning engineer and also received a sizeable pay increment after finishing the work-study diploma.

"Some of the teachers still recognised me... It was very nostalgic going back to ITE," he said.

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