Poly and ITE students get more opportunities to learn and work at the same time
From this year onwards, more polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates will have opportunities to work and earn qualifications at the same time, with the expansion of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP).
Not only will there be more programmes from a wider range of industrial sectors, students can now apply for the programme before they enlist in National Service (NS) and up to three years after finishing NS or graduating from school.
Previously, they could apply only after finishing NS and not more than a year after graduation.
There will be 60 programmes this year, compared to 40 last year, and 1,000 participants are expected, up from 500 last year.
New sectors offering the ELP include building services, human resource, medical technology and sports and wellness.
SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) is an initiative by the Government to provide opportunities for Singaporeans to learn new skills throughout life.
Speaking on Wednesday (Mar 29) at a visit to ELP partner PSA Singapore, Minister of Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung said: "Over time the selection criteria (for institutes of higher learning, companies etc.) will emphasise less on academic grades, that will hopefully free up space for students to learn other things that are useful in life. Education is about experience, not just attending lessons... It (SkillsFuture) not just changes the way education is delivered but is also a way to reach out to existing workers to continue to learn."
SSG is also looking into opportunities for ELP participants to study some modules at Singapore universities, with the view of them eventually getting degrees.
For example, Temasek Polytechnic already has plans to work with the Singapore University of Social Sciences and Singapore Institute of Technology in this area.
SSG chief executive Ng Cher Pong said the ELP enhancements will help polytechnic and ITE graduates master skills and achieve their career goals.
Poly grad gets to Earn and Learn in his new job
After spending the last two years in national service, and even though he recently landed a job as a 2D motion graphics designer, Mr Ngoh Jin Han, 23, decided he needed a refresher course.
"I felt quite lost, and I needed to keep myself updated," he explained.
He enrolled in the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) in digital media production, which Nanyang Polytechnic's (NYP) School of Interactive and Digital Media began offering last month.
His employer, Anomalyst Studio, a design-based post-production company, is one of the participating companies in the scheme.
Upon completion of the programme, Mr Ngoh and his 13 classmates will graduate with a specialist diploma in digital media production.
The ELP, which was first launched in March 2015, was expanded last month, with a slate of 60 programmes for an expected 1,000 participants this year, up from 40 programmes for 500 participants last year. The eligibility period was increased from one to three years too.
Other new sectors offering the ELP include human resource and medical technology.
"I like that (the SkillsFuture programme) is an 'add-on' to my current skill sets, and is relevant to the skills needed at work," said Mr Ngoh, who was originally from the motion graphics and broadcast design diploma programme in NYP.
For the next 12 months, he will attend day-long classes once a fortnight at NYP during work hours.
He said he learnt new things that he did not previously learn, such as planning the schedule for a production, like a full-fledged manager would.
Mr Ngoh did not have to pay a cent. His employer paid the course fees, on top of giving him time off, and will get a subsidy for it on completion of the course.
Mr Jed Tay, 27, managing director of Anomalyst Studio, said the ELP keeps employees' skills up to date.
He preferred this programme to organising his own training for employees as he would not have to worry about sourcing for quality service providers, and it was fuss-free.
"The media landscape is constantly changing. After I left national service, (I found that) the tools I previously learnt had already been phased out," he said. "At that time, I had to relearn everything by myself. The ELP certainly helps refresh and build one's existing skill set."A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Poly grad gets to Earn and Learn in his new job'.