Mr Heng Swee Keat
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies
Dr Regula Kurzbein
Deputy Head of Mission, Switzerland Embassy in Singapore
Ms Katharina Ueltschi
Managing Director, BERNINA Singapore Pte Ltd
AP Teo Tang Wee
Co-Head, Multi-Centric Education, Research and Industry STEM Centre, NIE
ITE Board Members
ITE colleagues and students
Ladies and gentlemen
- At a dinner event hosted by the former Swiss Ambassador to Singapore, Fabrice Filliez in March 2020 (just before COVID lockdown in April), Katharina explained the BERNINA sewing machine and her business model to my ITE colleagues and I. The BERNINA sewing machine has cutting-edge automation and digital features. Katharina believes users of the BERNINA machines will be inspired to be creative and entrepreneurial. Her vision is to bring BERNINA sewing machines beyond Singapore to the other countries in Asia.
- At that point in 2020, we saw potential for ITE to partner BERNINA:
First, ITE’s Electronics students can intern at BERNINA as their maintenance technicians. The outstanding interns can be sponsored by BERNINA to pursue a Work-Study Diploma.
We could host a number of BERNINA sewing machines at ITE’s Makerspace and have our students master the skills of using the sewing machine. These students can be creative and entrepreneurial by using the sewing machines to create various products for sale.
The students can also become co-trainers by joining BERNINA and ITE staff to conduct digital sewing workshops for the community.
ITE-BERNINA Service Training Centre at ITE College East
- The ITE-BERNINA Service Training Centre at ITE College East was officially opened in April 2022.
The Centre has trained more than 30 student interns in the basic maintenance of the machines, troubleshooting and servicing techniques and they have serviced more than 200 BERNINA sewing machines.
ITE and BERNINA jointly developed workshops for the public. These workshops provide a combination of useful skills - digital sewing, embroidering and online marketing. To-date, more than 400 participants have attended the workshops.
Last year, 15 ITE students received their BERNINA Training Programme Certificates, certifying them to be trainers to conduct sewing classes. This year, another 15 more students will be receiving this certification.
In June this year, 30 students and 3 staff joined Katharina to visit the BERNINA Thailand manufacturing facility in Chiang Mai and her engagement with potential customers and partners. This trip offered a rare opportunity for our students to see first-hand how a company internationalises its manufacturing and business. We hope our students will be inspired to be ambitious and strive to go regional and global when they set up their own businesses.
- Today, ITE and BERNINA are signing an MOU to formalise and expand our collaboration. BERNINA commits to providing opportunities for 200 students across the three ITE Colleges to be trained in servicing BERNINA sewing machines. Students can also strive to be certified as trainers to conduct digital sewing workshops and there will be overseas experience programmes in BERNINA’s manufacturing/training facilities in the region.
- Before I conclude, let me quote Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” This quote aptly describes the meeting between ITE and BERNINA. Our ITE students have benefitted from the new learning opportunities which enable them to acquire deeper skills, expanded perspectives, international understanding and fire in them bigger ambitions. In turn, BERNINA has established its talent pipeline to expand its business into the region and beyond.
- May the ITE-BERNINA partnership continue to grow and may BERNINA’s business continue to expand and thrive.
- I thank the Swiss Embassy for bringing ITE and BERNINA together and for your continuing support for our collaboration. I also wish to thank DPM Heng for gracing today’s MOU signing ceremony between ITE and BERNINA.