Singapore is now working on increasing the rate of students who will take the “work-study pathway” by 2030.
This was announced by Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung during his visit to the ABB-Stotz in Heidelberg, Germany on December 12.
The minister expressed that this special pathway is Singapore’s version of Germany’s “dual education” system.
What is the work-study pathway program?
Under the work-study pathway program, vocational training is introduced in school, as well as a three-year apprenticeship with companies or institutions.
Much like the dual education system, courses are taught by lecturers from companies. Companies would then handle the cost of training for the practical aspect of the course and students will be compensated during their internship.
How can it help students?
The system will help Singaporean students get on-the-job training and classes they need to be able to adapt to the workplace easily after they graduate.
Ong also said that this approach can also be called a “back to basics” approach because students will be given a better insight on how the work environments work and develop key skills to help them adapt.
Although technology is available to make lessons easy, certain skills still cannot be transferred to students with the help of computers and artificial intelligence. These skills are key in guaranteeing high quality and ability to work even without the use of technology.
It will also guarantee that they will be able to get a permanent job after they graduate.
Since they have interned for the companies they like to apply to, the companies already know how well they work. The students will also find it easier to adapt to the company since they are already familiar with the company’s policies thanks to the program.
If the student would like to work overseas, the program will inform the company that they have taken the right training before graduating.
According to Ong, many people tend to ignore the benefits of a dual education system as they believe it is inflexible. However, such a system can actually help students develop the key skills and competencies needed to adapt to any changes before them.
Is the work-study pathway currently being applied in Singapore?
Currently, about 3% of students are taking a form of work-study programmes.
For instance, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) offers students 24 courses in their work-study diploma programme. The program was introduced in April 2018 to provide students with an alternative to improve their skill set.
The program was also opened to in-service employees are companies who are partnered with the programme.
Usually, the program lasts between 2 and a half years to three years. Most of the time, the curriculum is taught directly in the workplace.
Meanwhile, four Singaporean universities offer the SkillsFuture work-study programme for their students. The program aims to help Singaporeans take on a work-study pathway from their undergraduate degrees to Post-Graduate and Institutes of Higher Learning Degrees.
The program is taught by IHL/appointed private providers, which will give students a way to understand how the company works and the industry they have selected.
What else was discussed about education during the trip?
Minister Ong is in Germany alongside President Halimah Yacob as she conducts her state visit.
During his stay, he also signed a joint declaration between Singapore’s education ministry and Germany’s education ministry so they can collaborate in new fields. This will also extend their collaboration listed under the 1991 agreement.
A new agreement was also signed between the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and the Baden-Wurttemberg Cooperative State University, Heidelberg.
Heidelberg is a strong supporter of the dual education system and all of its institutions have incorporated it in their curriculum. As a result, many companies overseas look for German workers for job openings because the dual education system prepares them to work in any condition.
The agreement between the two schools opens opportunities for both institutions to collaborate for student and staff development.
Several other agreements were also signed to help with education during the state visit.
During the signing, Ong said that these partnerships are important for Singapore to reform its educational system. This will then allow the educational system to prepare for the future and handle what needs to be changed.
What else is Singapore doing to introduce the work-study pathway system?
The introduction of the work-study pathway programme is just some of the steps enforced by the MOE to help Singaporean students transition to the work environment.
In July this year, they introduced the “through-train programme” that will be adapted next year for polytechnic students to get access to both local universities and the job market.
The pathway opens up more courses for students to get their degree easily and select the specialization they will pursue once they enter the job market.
After three or more university modules during their third year in polytechnic school, they will be taking on an internship through sponsor companies and graduate with a degree.
This will also enable the students to return to the companies they interned for as full-time employees after they graduate. Students will need to maintain a key grade point average when they take on the program.
Streamlining is also going to be introduced for modules available in polytechnic schools and university schools. If a student has taken the module in polytechnic school, they do not have to repeat it during their university tenure.
Beneficial to Industrial Growth
Companies, Ong said, will benefit through the program because they can monitor their prospective trainees/employees and help them be the right person for the job.
It also opens doors for better career development and deployment, as well as access to a talent bank where they can employ trained graduates who took the program.
The program will also fill in the gaps needed by certain industries which are finding it difficult to get graduates for their job openings.
Aside from this program, other work-study programmes will be expanded throughout the country throughout the year. Polytechnics will be adding 15 Earn and Learn Programs (ELP) to cover industries like Infocomm Technology and Manufacturing.
With the new implementations and changes, our students can look forward to applying hands-on skills from the theories they studied in classrooms. This will better prepare them to enter the corporate world in full force once they graduate and not having to worry about the job search.
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