These are the facts: industries will constantly change, and workforces will need to evolve. This has triggered a paradigm shift in Singapore, where there is an increasing focus on reskilling and lifelong learning.
“We have to be relevant to the industry,” insists Lim Teck Lee, Deputy Principal (Academic) of ITE College East.
The technical institute is deepening ties with industry leaders to ensure that its students will be prepared, Lim tells GovInsider.
ITE College East’s strategy has been to grow work attachments, partnerships with companies, training centres and an emphasis on lifelong learning. On-the-job training is key here as well, where the college “co-develops” learning outcomes with industry, Lim explains.
Last year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced formal apprenticeship-based training arrangements delivered in partnership with employers. In November 2017, 41 companies partnered with ITE to roll out this diploma in four different sectors, including security and healthcare.
And in February this year, three companies pledged their support in training students in the field of automotive engineering. They will work with ITE to train students in technical services for buses, electric vehicles, and industrial power transmission.
The college is also working to ensure that its curriculum and syllabus keep up with the industry demands, Lim says, so graduates come out with the right skills.
For instance, Singapore has launched plans to develop the precision engineering industry, with a focus on new areas like robotics, additive manufacturing, lasers and optics. In January this year, ITE introduced a new course in Digital and Precision Engineering, which will train students in digital manufacturing skills to help prepare them for these new demands.
Industry attachments are mandatory for all ITE College East courses now, and designed to ensure that students take on the peripheral skills that are crucial to working any environment – workplace health and safety, industry cultures, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. “We consider them soft skills,” says Lim. “There are some things we cannot teach in the institution.”
Skillsfuture Singapore was set up by the Government as an approach to boosting resilience and an enthusiasm for lifelong learning in the population. Graduates will also need to continue learning after they leave school, refining their skills to suit changing demands. This will allow the college’s graduates to “take responsibility for their own employability”, Lim adds. ITE offers ad hoc courses and training programmes for graduates to constantly keep their skills current throughout their working lives.
“When they leave us, they can catch up with changing technology later on,” he remarks. “They won’t think that once they finish, then that’s it, they can use this know-how for life; it’s not possible.”
The future may be uncertain, but with the right mindset, graduates can ride the tides of change as they come.