Thursday, 27 July 2017

ITE Work-Learn Technical Diploma programme to start in April 2018

Work-study scheme will offer up to 120 places across four courses
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2017

Graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) can, for the first time, take up a new diploma awarded by the institution, starting from April next year.

The Work-Learn Technical Diploma programme, first announced in Parliament in March, will allow them to work and study at the same time. Up to 120 places across four courses - marine and offshore engineering, mechanical and electrical services supervision, rehabilitation care, and security systems engineering - will be offered for the first intake.

Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung announced details of the new technical diploma yesterday at the ITE graduation ceremony, likening it to an apprenticeship stint.

"Trainees will develop skills mastery through hands-on training and practice, grounded in deep knowledge of their employer's operations," he said. "With this knowledge, they will be better placed to become masters in their trade, and rise through the ranks."

The programmes will last 21/2 to three years, with 70 per cent of the curriculum time set aside for on-the-job training.

In his speech, Mr Ong also said more ITE graduates have been able to find jobs, and their salaries have gone up over the years.

Citing the latest ITE graduate employment survey last year, he told the 711 graduates at the ceremony that almost 87 per cent of their seniors had secured jobs within six months of graduating last year, up by 3.5 percentage points from 2015.

From 2012 to last year, the median salaries of ITE graduates also increased by 20 per cent from about $1,500 to $1,800, and for the first time, the median starting salaries of graduates who finished national service reached $2,000.

"The overall signal is that your skills continue to be valued by employers, and the upward trend will likely continue, so long as we keep the training focused and relevant, and our students continue to be eager to learn," said Mr Ong.

With this new technical course, he said ITE graduates can apply for a diploma based on ITE's criteria, which will focus on employers' recommendations instead of purely academic grades. Similar to the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programmes, employers will play a key role in developing and delivering the curriculum. Trainees will also receive an income while learning.

ITE already offers specialised diplomas in areas like culinary arts, but these are conferred by its foreign partner institutions.

ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said it will be an additional avenue for ITE graduates to upgrade their skills and advance in their careers. "With most of the skills learnt through actual learning and practice in industry, we will develop a new generation of skilled workforce which truly understands the job requirements of industry."

For a start, employers such as ST Electronics, Certis Cisco, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Sembcorp Marine, St Luke's ElderCare and Awwa have come on board.

Ms Nuryasmin Hannah, Awwa's human resource director, said the technical diploma in rehabilitation care will provide regular on-the-job training for students, allowing them to "apply what they have learnt in class in their work".

Registration for the courses will be from Nov 27 to Feb 2 next year.

From school dropout to one of ITE's top adult learners
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2017

Mr Mohamed Rizal Abdul Rahim dropped out of school at age 11.

Studying was the least of his priorities - until he got married in 2013 and started a family.

Now 36, he is graduating from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) with a Higher Nitec in Services - Logistics for International Trade. He is also one of ITE's top adult learners with a grade point average of 3.8 out of 4.

"I didn't have any formal qualifications... it wasn't easy to progress at work," said Mr Rizal, who works in logistics. "What pushed me was preparing for marriage and the arrival of my first son, which all needed money."

Mr Rizal joined a part-time course at ITE College East in 2014. For two years, he spent two to four evenings a week back in the classroom.

The father of two boys, who are turning one and three this year, had to juggle his family, work and studies. "It was quite tough. I finished work in Joo Koon at 5.45pm, and I would take a train to the east for a class that started at 6.45pm," he said. "I used the time on the train to read my notes and revise, and prepare for assignments."

His good results came as a surprise. "I just wanted to pass, so I studied very hard and I remembered what the lecturers said were important."

Now a warehouse specialist at a company that designs and manufactures sensor solutions, Mr Rizal is earning 70 to 80 per cent more than what he used to before gaining his ITE qualification. "The company also values my input and knowledge more," he said.

He is now considering taking up a diploma in the same field at Ngee Ann Polytechnic or a private institution next year.

"It's now a habit for me to study, and what I'm learning is interesting," he said. "We cannot stay stagnant and be left behind. We must upgrade ourselves and be relevant so that companies will value us."

* ITE to offer 10 new work-learn diplomas from April 2019
Developed with industry players, the courses will equip graduates with relevant skills
By Amelia Teng, Education Correspondent, The Straits Times, 3 Nov 2018

There will be more avenues for Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates to pursue diplomas that will allow them to work and study at the same time.

The institution will be offering 10 new Work-Learn Technical Diplomas (WLTD) from April next year, with places for about 350 trainees.

Students in the courses, which cut across areas like port automation technology, microelectronics, and hotel and restaurant management, will spend 70 per cent of curriculum time training on the job.

The programmes, developed together with employers to ensure that they are relevant to the industries, will be between 2½ and three years. Registration starts on Monday at the ITE website.

ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek announced the new diplomas yesterday at a signing ceremony involving 113 firms and industry partners.

ITE first launched four such diplomas courses in April this year to provide a skills-based avenue for its graduates to upgrade and build their careers. There are currently more than 100 trainees in 33 companies pursuing these diplomas.

Speaking at ITE's Ang Mo Kio headquarters, Ms Low said the WLTD pathway is another option for ITE graduates, besides the full-time and part-time diploma programmes. She said that the ITE will continue to work with industry partners to come up with more such diplomas.

It aims to provide 7 per cent of each ITE cohort with places in such diploma programmes by 2022. If demand is strong, the figure could go up to 10 per cent, she added.

In a speech at yesterday's ceremony, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said some ITE graduates have told him during dialogues that they are attracted to the new work-study diplomas over polytechnic diplomas because they like hands-on work and learning on the job.

Yet they still ask him if they can go on to university, he said.

"Taking Work-Learn Technical Diploma is to learn skills especially from the employers and you go on a different path," he said.

But he also noted that it is still possible for them to get a degree with the newer universities such as the Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Social Sciences, where learning is more applied and relevant to work skills.

"Beyond looking at academic grades, academic achievements, (the applied universities) also look at your work experience and your skills, and then are able to take in students on that basis.

"So I think the doors are also opening wider and wider. We are not lowering standards, we are keeping high standards, not measured by one yardstick, but by different standards," he said.

Ms Low also thanked ITE's industry partners for offering training and expertise. "The industry (players) are ITE's training partners - we develop the curriculum together, we determine the skills and standards together, we also deliver the training together," she said.

"This approach benefits both the industries and the ITE graduates. Industries are assured of having workers equipped with the relevant skills, while ITE graduates have an upgrading pathway that suits their learning style as well as enable them to achieve a diploma and career progression."

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