SINGAPORE - Working adults can soon upgrade their skills in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector through a new programme offering qualifications which can stack up to a Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) degree.
The programme will let them earn micro-credentials, which are qualifications in specific topics, in areas such as cyber security, software engineering and network systems.
The pilot programme, known as the Competency-based Stackable Micro-credential pathway, is run by SIT and targets working adults who want to take on larger roles in their companies or pivot to emerging technologies.
On Monday, SIT inked a memorandum of understanding with three industry partners – NCS, Singtel and Singapore Computer Society – and three polytechnics – Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour at the event held at The Arts House, said degrees and diplomas tended to be the focus in the past.
“These are certainly useful in signalling general abilities and capabilities. But increasingly, moving forward, we need to be able to help our workers signal specific skill sets to the market,” he said.
“Beyond the first diploma or degree, we should be pursuing many more stackable modules that are competency-based. It is not just about getting a general degree, but micro-credentials that are relevant and specific to the industry needs.”
The micro-credentials will be offered through the existing Bachelor of Science with Honours in Applied Computing, and may be expanded to more degree programmes in the future.
Each micro-credential consists of about four courses and takes about four months to complete.
Learners can sign up for a single micro-credential or take on multiple micro-credentials over a period of time and complete a capstone project to obtain an SIT degree.
SIT president Chua Kee Chaing said the applied computing degree was chosen to address the critical shortage of talent in the ICT sector.
The programme will allow learners to be exempted from certain courses if their previous qualifications and acquired skills – such as post-diploma certifications or skills gained through work – are a match with the course.
“This way, learners don’t waste time relearning what they already know,” said Professor Chua.
The programme will begin in the later half of the academic year 2023 to 2024 that starts next September, with an expected initial intake of close to 150 students.
Besides being tested on the theories and principles of the topics in the programme, students will also be assessed on how they apply what they have learnt in their workplaces.
To maximise the flexibility of the programme, the courses will be taught in a mix of virtual and physical classes. The virtual classes, mostly for theory lessons, will be carried out using a self-learning format that lets students complete the lessons in their own time.
NCS and Singtel will be sponsoring their employees for this programme and will work closely with SIT to curate suitable learning materials for the students.
NCS vice-president for people and culture Gerard Koh said: “This collaboration is a win-win for us, because we get to train and retain our talent, and for the students, they get to work to gain experience and study at the same time towards a degree.”
He added that NCS will support its participating employees, including by giving them time off during their examination period.
Mr Charlton Ong, Singtel’s vice-president for people and culture, said: “A lot of our people want to get a degree, but many may not have the support in balancing their professional life and personal life. This sponsorship will help them learn new skills and stay relevant.
“After all, our people are our assets.”