SINGAPORE - To meet the demand for applied learning, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will offer six new work-study diploma courses next year, bringing the total number of such offerings to 30.
The six new courses are in the areas of aircraft cabin engineering, aircraft maintenance engineering, cloud management and operations, event management, fitness management, and opticianry.
The work-study technical diploma programme, which was launched in 2018, typically lasts between 2½ and three years. It is meant to provide a skills-based avenue for ITE graduates to upgrade themselves and build their careers.
Students are hired by partner companies as full-time salaried staff, and 70 per cent of the curriculum time comprises on-the-job training. They are awarded diploma certificates after the stint.
On Tuesday (Dec 8), 230 companies committed to a partnership with ITE under this programme. They will offer 850 placements for the new intake in April next year (2021).
This is up from 100 trainees across 41 companies in 2018, when the programme began.
Representatives signed letters of offer at a virtual event, witnessed by Second Education Minister Maliki Osman, ITE chairman Andrew Chong and ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek, and Dr Gog Soon Joo, who is the chief futurist and chief skills officer at SkillsFuture Singapore.
Dr Maliki, in a speech at the event, also shared details on a review that he is heading to see what more the Ministry of Education (MOE) can do to ensure that graduates from ITE and the five polytechnics are prepared for the working world.
The review was first announced by Education Minister Lawrence Wong last Thursday (Dec 3).
Dr Maliki said: “MOE recognises the value of applied education pathways for our students to gain skills relevant to industry. Even so with almost 70 per cent of our Primary 1 cohort choosing the ITE/polytechnic route.”
He outlined three key areas of the review that aims to better support the diverse strengths and aspirations of these students, as well as the needs of employers and industry.
First, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will look at how to further enhance the curriculum to better prepare graduates for the workplace, he said.
A key focus in particular will be on strengthening the ITE and the polytechnic curricular offerings and pathways for its students to build higher skills and provide more upgrading opportunities.
He said that ITE's Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes have provided generations of students with deep technical skills relevant to the workplace.
"We will explore strengthening the ITE curriculum so students can continue to leverage on skills learnt to remain relevant in the future economy," he added.
The second area will be to increase opportunities and services for students and fresh graduates as they build their careers and upgrade their skills.
The work-study diploma and work-study post-diploma programmes are key pathways for this, he said, and MOE will examine how such pathways can be enhanced and expanded.
Thirdly, MOE will study how to expand community partnerships and programming to better support and uplift students with higher needs.
In the coming months, MOE will engage students and alumni, and draw insights from industry members and educators, Dr Maliki said.
He added that the steady expansion of programmes like ITE's work-study diploma programme is one key aspect of how the polytechnics and ITE are evolving to meet the aspirations of students and help ensure good employment outcomes.
"We must continue to ensure our students are well equipped with the necessary skills to embark on fulfilling careers, amid rapidly-transforming job roles and manpower demands."
Ms Low told The Straits Times that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of companies participating in the programme has "stayed relatively strong".
"Our industry partners are still very supportive and we have been continually getting enquiries on our work-study diploma programmes," she said.