Maliki Osman to lead review to ensure ITE and poly graduates' skills are matched to interests, jobs

Singapore has started work-study programmes in the institutes of higher learning, especially ITE and the polytechnics.
Singapore has started work-study programmes in the institutes of higher learning, especially ITE and the polytechnics.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman will be leading a review to see what more his ministry can do to ensure that graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and the five polytechnics are prepared for the working world.

Announcing the review on Thursday (Dec 3), Education Minister Lawrence Wong said it will be important to ensure that the graduates "acquire deep skills and competencies that are well matched to their interests, and also the needs of employers and the industry".

More information on the review will be shared in time to come.

Mr Wong was speaking on the future of education, at the first session of a webinar series organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to celebrate its 115th anniversary.

It was held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House with limited participants, and streamed virtually to a wider audience.

The NUS115 Distinguished Speaker Series, with the theme "Shaping the Future", will run until the middle or third quarter of next year, depending on the Covid-19 situation.

Mr Wong said that diverse pathways for students is a major strength that Singapore must continue to uphold.

"Around the world, too many countries have shifted to an overly academic model of tertiary or university education," he said.

"I think in Singapore, we have been fortunate to avoid some of these imbalances, because we have paid a lot of attention over the years to our technical and vocational training. And that is why we have always said that ITE is the jewel in our education system."

The "gold standard" for technical and vocational training is Germany, he noted.

It has a dual-track system where students will complete a three-year apprenticeship with a company - spending about half their time learning on the job, and the other half at a vocational training school.

Such a system, undertaken by about half of the cohort in Germany, is regarded very highly by society, he said.

Singapore, too, has started work-study programmes in the institutes of higher learning, especially ITE and the polytechnics.

ITE now offers 24 technical work-study diploma programmes, which are apprenticeship-based programmes with 70 per cent of the course delivered through structured, on-the-job training.

Said Mr Wong: "They are an important applied pathway for students to learn, acquire deep skills and relevant work experience.

"We are starting from a strong position but there is still more that can be done in this space."