Mr Andrew Chong
Chairman, ITE Board of Governors
Ms Low Khah Gek
Dr Yek Tiew Ming
Principal, ITE College East
Mr Robert Chong
Group Chief Corporate and Human Resource Officer / Sembcorp Industries
Mr Koh Chiap Khiong
CEO, Singapore and Southeast Asia/Sembcorp
Industries Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today for the opening of the ITE-Sembcorp Centre for Sustainable Solutions.
Introduction and appreciation to Sembcorp
I would like to express my appreciation to ITE’s extensive network of industry partners including Sembcorp, for the strong support they give to ITE. These valuable partnerships enhance the learning experience of our ITE students and help prepare them for the work environment. This collaboration between ITE and Sembcorp will provide students with practical skills training in clean energy and sustainability solutions, through exposure to the latest technological developments in clean energy.
Even before graduating, our ITE students will already have equipped themselves with some of the necessary skills to work in the sunrise sector of sustainable technologies. 55,000 jobs will be created in this sector over the next 10 years as Singapore pursues sustainable development.
Besides setting up centres of excellence like these, partners such as Sembcorp play crucial roles in providing authentic work experiences for our students to apply the skills learnt in the classroom, through industry attachments. These attachments will better inform their future educational and career choices. They are a hallmark of ITE’s unique brand of skills-based training.
Meeting industry needs with deeper skills
Indeed, the importance of these industry attachments was emphasised during my engagements with all our stake holders since last year. And this includes our ITE students, alumni, parents, staff and employers. The industry exposure connects knowledge learnt with workplace experience, and serves them well in their professional development and lifelong learning.
Another point that many have raised is that industry exposure must enable acquisition of deeper set of work-ready skills. This provides a stronger foundation for future employment prospects and continued skills acquisition through their working life.
Employers play a crucial and key role in this regard, by providing good mentorship opportunities.
One student we met was Mr Nur Fazli bin Abdul Rahim, a student from the Nitec in Fitness Training at ITE College West. He expressed appreciation for his ITE experience and wanted more opportunities for Nitec graduates like himself to upgrade their skills, such as through a Higher Nitec, for access to better jobs and further education options.
Industry practitioners, like Mr Wong Pik Hung, Director of Marchwood Lab Services, also affirmed the importance of strong industry attachments as part of the ITE curriculum for it to be responsive to industry needs.
As industry attachments also help students acquire useful work-ready skills, he particularly felt students who went through multiple attachments that build on the competencies of one another would gain solid industry exposure and be much sought after by their employers.
ITE’s enhanced curricular structure
ITE has been studying enhancements to its curricular structure to better meet industry needs and has taken on board the extensive feedback. Let me share key moves that ITE will undertake, to position itself and its graduates for the future.
First, ITE will be enhancing its curricular structure to enable all ITE students to experience a three-year education pathway, through which they can aspire to attain a Higher Nitec certification.
This builds on our commitment to provide all students with the opportunity to upgrade beyond a Nitec over the course of their careers by 2030, as announced by Prime Minister Lee during the National Day Rally in 2019. The enhanced curricular structure will streamline overlapping competencies between the Nitec and Higher Nitec courses in related disciplines today. This will enable students entering at Year 1 to move seamlessly through Year 2 and Year 3, and complete their Higher Nitec certification in three years, as compared to the typical 2-year Nitec and 2-year Higher Nitec route today.
With a redesigned and shorter 3-year curriculum, students will go through a broad-based foundation that will equip them with fundamental skills needed for the relevant industry sector in Year 1. They will then take more specialised modules over Year 2 and Year 3, leading to a Higher Nitec certification.
This is a change from today when students graduate with a Nitec after two years, and need to apply for admission to Higher Nitec programmes, and typically spend another 2 more years.
Second, we will deepen authentic learning in the workplace. Industry attachments remain a key way to provide students with opportunities for industry exposure. In partnership with employers, we can strengthen the learning of workplace competencies and quality of workplace mentorship.
Students will undergo two industry attachments, in Year 2 and 3 respectively, with the second industry attachment building on the competencies of the first. In doing so, they build on their learning each step of the way.
Support for diverse learners
Thirdly, ITE will continue to cater to a diverse profile of students, and is committed to supporting all students who enter ITE to achieve their educational aspirations.
ITE will continue to ensure students who require additional support are provided with appropriate learning scaffolds and additional academic coaching as well as social and other support, such that all students can aspire to complete the three-year education to obtain a Higher Nitec. In the enhanced curricular structure, there will be flexibility to support students based on their different starting points and pace of learning.
GCE O-Level holders and those who enroll into ITE via the Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP) will still be able to complete their Higher Nitec in two years. Beyond that, we will provide students who demonstrate strong aptitude in their first year with the option of an accelerated pathway to finish Higher Nitec in about two years.
For those who are unable to complete the full three-year Higher Nitec programme, they will be guided to complete their two industrial attachments and can then decide to go out to work first with a Nitec qualification, of course, with a transcript that documents modules that they have taken, and then they can return to ITE to complete the rest of their modules at a later stage.
First phase of implementation
We recognise that this is a significant shift, but a timely one to make. ITE will thus adopt a phased implementation approach.
The first phase of implementation of the enhanced curricular structure will commence from the 2022 ITE intake with eight Higher Nitec courses. These are representative of the various industries that ITE students currently articulate into. These eight courses will have around 2,000 students admitted into Year 1 in the 2022 intake.
This phased approach allows ITE to review the outcomes of the first phase of implementation, and make necessary adjustments to the curriculum. ITE will review the implementation approach and student support measures, before more courses are transited to the enhanced structure in subsequent phases after 2024.
After completing their Higher Nitec, graduates can then look forward to more upgrading opportunities to deepen their skills, such as through ITE’s offering of Work- Study Diplomas and Technical Diplomas. We believe that students like Fazli will benefit from the enhanced curricular structure by acquiring deeper skills through the Higher Nitec qualification, which will open up more employment and upgrading opportunities for them in their lifetime.
The enhanced ITE curricular structure represents an important milestone in our ongoing review of opportunities and pathways in applied education, recognising future opportunities in the new economic landscape.
We are starting from a position of strength. Our graduates gain work-ready skills that has prepared them well for lifelong learning and career success. However, the aspirations and needs of our students have evolved, together with the demands of industry and constantly changing economic environment. It is imperative that we continue to seek stakeholders’ views on how we can continue to enhance our pathways and curriculum offerings to enable more generations of students to achieve their full potential and contribute effectively to the economy and country. As we ready our graduates, we hope the industry will reciprocate with commensurate remunerations that will inspire them to scale greater heights.
In closing, I would like to thank ITE for its commitment and hard work in better preparing our students for the future. I would also like to thank all our industry partners for their steadfast support to ITE.
I would also like to congratulate ITE and Sembcorp on the opening of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions. I look forward to many more generations of students who will benefit from the wider range of opportunities made available to them through this enhanced curricular structure.