Mr Andrew Chong, Chairman, ITE
Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO, ITE
Members of the ITE Board of Governors
Employers and Company representatives
Graduates and Parents
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my great pleasure to join you today for the ITE Work-Study Diploma (WSDip) Graduation Ceremony 2022.
Today, 371 trainees are graduating, and 18 top graduates among them will be receiving the course medals given their strong performance. I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to all the graduates! To the graduates, you should be proud of yourselves for achieving this significant milestone and adapting to the many changes in the way we lived and learnt during the pandemic.
Let us also acknowledge all those who have supported you through this journey – your family members and friends, lecturers and staff at ITE, and industry partners. I am sure they must be very proud of you and many of them are present here today to celebrate this momentous occasion with you.
Supporting the progression of ITE graduates through WSDips
Today, ITE offers WSDips and Technical Diploma programmes to provide its graduates with upgrading pathways where they can learn by doing. Courses in both diploma programmes are apprenticeship-based and delivered in partnership with the industry. They provide opportunities for ITE Nitec and Higher Nitec graduates to progress to a diploma through skills mastery and practice.
WSDips in particular, are designed to intersperse classroom learning with on-the-job training, allowing students to deepen their skills and knowledge as they continuously apply what they have learnt in school to the workplace. This draws inspiration from Germany's apprenticeship-based system, which combines vocational training in school with company apprenticeships. Through this pathway, students can earn a salary and acquire working experience while studying. Partner companies, in turn, can harvest new talent from the programme.
ITE's WSDip programme has grown significantly over the years. Starting from four programmes and 100 trainees in 2018, it now has 36 programmes across various industries, with 2,400 trainees enrolled in 2022 since its inception.
The employment outcomes of WSDips have also been very encouraging. Our surveys showed that WSDip graduates had seen an increase in salaries, being entrusted with greater responsibilities upon graduation. Their average salaries are also comparable to the median salary of polytechnic graduates.
The on-the-job training component and positive employment outcomes make the WSDip programme a highly attractive upgrading pathway for ITE graduates. Mr Mohamed Tasriq Bin Helmi, for example, has benefited from this programme.
Tasriq graduated with a Nitec in Mechatronics as one of the top performing students in the programme.
Subsequently, he enrolled in the WSDip in Automation Engineering to deepen his skills. With on-the-job training at the workplace making up 70% of the curriculum, he found that he could apply what he had learnt in class directly, and better hone his skills as an engineer.
Through this work-study model, Tasriq not only gained a head start in his career through roles that challenged him to think on his feet and act nimbly, but also simultaneously obtained a diploma.
Tasriq is graduating today as the top student in his WSDip programme and will be receiving the Gold Course Medal. Well done, Tasriq!
Launching of new WSDip programmes
Building on this success and strong demand for WSDips, ITE will be launching four new WSDip programmes in April next year to meet industry needs. These include:
- WSDip in Agriculture and Aquaculture Technology, with a focus on urban agriculture, aquaculture systems and innovations in the agri-food industry;
- WSDip in Customer Experience Management, with specialisations in the aviation and consumer sectors;
- WSDip in Facilities Management that focuses on deepening expertise in building maintenance and repair of key building services systems; and
- WSDip in Security Operations, with an emphasis on border security and security services, covering areas such as people management skills and service excellence.
This will bring the total number of WSDip courses to 40, with a total of 1,200 places being offered in 2023. ITE will continue to expand its WSDip programme, with the aim of offering 1,500 places each year by 2025. I hope that more companies will consider offering the ITE WSDip programme to build their talent pipeline while providing opportunities for ITE graduates to upskill to a diploma.
Launching of New Technical Diplomas
Let me also take this opportunity to share some developments on ITE Technical Diplomas. Similarly, Technical Diploma programmes offer an apprenticeship-based model of learning. They are offered in technical areas, and in partnership with renowned international institutions, to provide students with industry-recognised skills training.
There are currently three such programmes, which have seen good outcomes:
- Technical Engineer Diploma in Machine Technology and Technical Engineer Diploma in Automotive Engineering – which are offered in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Baden-Württemberg, Germany; and
- Technical Diploma in Culinary Arts, with French culinary and hospitality institution, Institut Paul Bocuse.
Since its inception in 2008, ITE has trained some 900 Technical Diploma graduates whose median starting salaries are also comparable to that of polytechnic diploma graduates.
I am pleased to announce that ITE will be launching three new Technical Diplomas in April 2023. They are:
- Technical Diploma in Hospitality & Hotel Management, in collaboration with EHL Hospitality Business School, Switzerland, one of the best hospitality management schools in the world; and
- Technical Engineer Diploma in Civil and Structural Engineering, and Technical Diploma in Beauty & Wellness Management, both in collaboration with the Vocational Training Council (VTC), Hong Kong. VTC is the largest vocational and professional education and training provider in Hong Kong, and one of ITE's long-standing partners.
Altogether, the six Technical Diplomas and 40 Work-Study Diplomas will provide about 1,400 diploma places in 2023. This will enable more than 10% of ITE graduates to progress towards a diploma with ITE.
Companies and Mentors as Key Partners in the Training Ecosystem
ITE's close partnerships with companies have been crucial to the success of its programmes, in particular, the WSDip programme whose content is delivered primarily through On-the-Job Training (OJT). Today, more than 500 participating companies are engaged in co-training ITE's WSDip trainees. They work closely with ITE to jointly design, deliver and assess the OJT curriculum, providing company supervisors, trainers and mentors to guide and develop the trainees. Such involvement takes commitment and resources but allows companies to better meet their manpower and skills needs too. We hope their positive experiences will inspire more companies to follow suit and partner with ITE to provide more places for our WSDip students.
To support companies to participate in WSDip programmes and also those interested in workplace learning, ITE provides Train-The-Trainer courses, or TTT courses for short, to equip supervisors and trainers with the necessary knowledge and skills.
Each year, more than 1,500 company trainers participate in ITE's TTT courses. Those who complete specific modules will receive the ITE Certified Industry Trainer (CIT) certificate. Those who complete all the main TTT modules and have demonstrated the ability to apply what they learnt to develop company training programmes can apply for the Advanced CIT certificate.
This year, 221 trainers have been awarded the CIT certificate, and 3 will be receiving the ACIT certificate today.
One of the ACIT certificate recipients is Ms Jane Chia. Jane is currently working as a Quality Associate Engineer under REC Solar Pte Ltd. With more than 10 years of training experience, Jane is actively involved in training new hires in quality awareness. ITE's TTT course has equipped her with the skills to develop a systematic approach to mentor local and international quality inspectors in safety awareness programmes.
Ms Chia and other certified company trainers, as well as the companies participating in the ITE WSDip programme show us how industry practitioners and employers can play an active role in promoting workplace learning and supporting Singapore's lifelong learning ecosystem. Such partnerships between industry and our educational institutions will continue to define and refresh our social compact on education and lifelong learning.
To the new and existing companies offering the WSDips, I thank you for your support and partnership in providing an apprenticeship-based pathway for ITE graduates to pursue a diploma while working. I look forward to seeing more companies come on board the programme as ITE expands the WSDip pathway.
To the 371 graduates, I urge you to continue using and building on your skills to contribute meaningfully to your industry of choice. I hope you will always remain curious, open-minded, and resilient in your pursuit of lifelong learning. Indeed, you have only just commenced your journey as lifelong learners. That is why some have called graduation ceremonies as commencement ceremonies as this is where you begin to see the significance of always being ready to upgrade your skills for personal and professional development. I hope you will continue to inspire others around you with this spirit!
Once again, my heartiest congratulations to the Class of 2022!