SINGAPORE - Giving people a second chance if they could not get into public universities was the Singapore Institute of Management's (SIM) main mission after it was founded in 1964.
But in 2017, SIM's degree-granting arm - SIM University - was restructured into an autonomous university and renamed the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
This started a period of soul searching for the institution as a whole, said president and chief executive Seah Chin Siong, with SIM now deciding to pivot to focus on professional and skills education.
Speaking to The Straits Times recently, he added: "SIM is now 'minding the gap' between formal education and work in the industry."
While SIM still offers degrees in partnership with institutions overseas such as the University of London through its global education arm, it has been beefing up its programmes for professionals and businesses, he said.
In a recent statement, SIM said that starting in November, it will launch courses such as Job of the Chief Executive, Job of the Chief Sustainability Officer and Job of the Chief Learning Officer.
These will give training to people who are eyeing senior leadership positions.
It has also been working on helping enterprises to develop learning and skills road maps, Mr Seah added, as well as creating ways to recognise micro-credentials which can give companies a better indication of a workers' specific skills than a traditional degree.
Said Mr Seah, who began helming SIM in 2019: "We don't do academic research. What we do is we focus on the industry."
SIM, which was started by the Economic Development Board, will also be working with companies to create on-the-job training courses.
In May, it announced that it would work with IT company and M1 subsidiary AsiaPac. The company’s employees who have diplomas can equip themselves with skills for the information and communications technology sector and pursue an undergraduate degree at SIM.
These efforts are in line with what SIM has done historically, but the time is right for such a pivot, said executive director of the Institute for Adult Learning, Professor Lee Wing On.
He added: "For over five decades, SIM has provided our workforce with relevant, valuable skills training.
He said Singapore's economy is gearing up to recover and transform amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and industry-focused and skills-based training to prepare the workforce of the future is more pertinent than ever.
Prof Lee added that SIM's repositioning will create more opportunities for collaborations in the training and adult education sector that address and anticipate learners' needs, while encouraging and engaging them to pursue continual career development.