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
1. I am pleased to join you at this year's ITE Work-Study Diploma Graduation Ceremony. Each graduation ceremony is a celebration of hard work, tenacity and perseverance – often times a celebration of the human spirit!
2. I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to the 441 graduands and the 28 medallists from the 4th batch of ITE's Work-Study Diploma programme. We are proud of your remarkable achievements, and your personal and professional growth throughout this journey.
Beginnings and growth of Work-Study Diplomas
3. You would have heard DPM Lawrence Wong launched the Forward Singapore or Forward SG report recently. Through the Forward Singapore conversations and engagements, we heard that Singaporeans aspire for a vibrant and inclusive Singapore, where there are equal opportunities for all Singaporeans, regardless of one's background, educational pathway or career choices. In the context of today's audience, the Government is committed to enabling more ITE graduates to upskill and upgrade early, which can propel their career and salary growth forward in the long run.
4. ITE's work-study diplomas, or WSDips for short, is a key pathway for ITE graduates to upgrade to a diploma. Our WSDip journey started five years ago. In 2018, we embraced the idea of 'learning by doing' and launched WSDips, diversifying the pathways available for our ITE graduates to attain a diploma fitting their style of learning. Trainees in WSDip courses acquire knowledge and skills on the job, under the supervision of dedicated mentors. This plays to the strength of ITE graduates, who have undergone a highly practice-based curriculum in ITE. With the close involvement of partner companies in designing and delivering the curriculum, trainees gain relevant and up-to-date skills that can immediately be used at the workplace. Companies also stand to benefit as these trainees will form their future talent pipeline.
5. Over the years, we have seen strong demand for WSDips from ITE graduates and industry partners. We started with 100 trainees across 4 WSDip courses in the pioneer batch of 2018. Today, we have an intake of more than 1,000 trainees across 40 WSDip courses. This is a tenfold increase over just 5 years!
Delivering positive outcomes for ITE graduates and WSDip companies
6. Apart from the growth in numbers, WSDips have also delivered good employment outcomes for its trainees. Our surveys showed that WSDip graduates saw their salaries (based on their ITE Nitec or Higher Nitec qualifications) increase when they graduate and more than 7 in 10 stayed on in their companies after graduation, as a result of the good learning and career development opportunities offered by their companies. For the first few batches who have graduated, our surveys showed that the median salary of a WSDip graduate is comparable to graduates from full-time polytechnic diploma programmes.
7. These positive outcomes cannot be possible without the strong commitment of participating companies and the hard work put in by our trainees.
- One of the graduates who demonstrated exemplary commitment is Lee Chun Kit. While pursing the Nitec in Cloud Computing in ITE, Chun Kit had to balance the demands in school and the responsibilities as a caregiver at home.
- Despite the challenges, Chun Kit graduated from his Nitec course and enrolled in the WSDip in Cloud Management & Operations to further his studies. Chun Kit's passion for learning and dedication to excellence made him an invaluable asset to his sponsoring company, Terrabit Network. Chun Kit was promoted to a Network Engineer with a 100% pay increment or double his salary when he started, and will be taking on larger, more complex projects.
- Another graduate who has done well is Nadiah Binte Onn. Nadiah graduated from the WSDip in Marine and Offshore Engineering last year. She has gone on to pursue a degree in Building and Project Management at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), while still working with her WSDip company, Seatrium New Energy Pte Ltd.
- Seatrium recognises Nadiah's potential to contribute to the company at a higher level and is supporting her degree studies through flexible work arrangements so that she can juggle both her work commitment and her studies at SUSS.
8. Companies who work with us to deliver WSDips speak positively of our trainees. For example, Mr Lee Hsin Chong, Managing Director for the BNL Group of Companies, said that our ITE WSDip trainees are very keen to learn, curious about things, and certainly very passionate. He said, and I quote, "I see it in every single one of them, which is why I am so happy to work with them all the time." Chun Kit and Nadiah showed that ITE graduates are indeed dedicated and proactive problem solvers who will shine in the right environment. Well done, Chun Kit and Nadiah!
Expanding Upskilling Opportunities through New WSDips
9. With the initial success for the first five years, ITE will continue to venture further. I am pleased to announce that in 2024, ITE will launch five new WSDips courses:
- WSDip in Accountancy, with a focus on in-house accounting functions.
- WSDip in Artificial Intelligence and Data Intelligence, to support businesses' digital strategies.
- WSDip in Electronics and Computer Engineering, to optimise operational efficiency and reliability in digital work environments.
- WSDip in Nursing, to provide an apprenticeship-based progression pathway, and
- WSDip in Tourism Management, where trainees will acquire skills ranging from customer behaviour analytics to sustainable tourism practices.
10. To date, ITE has secured the commitment of 50 companies to take in students for these 5 new courses. Kudos, ITE!
11. With the expansion of WSDips, taken together with ITE's Technical Diplomas, ITE enables more than 10% of its graduates to progress towards a diploma qualification with ITE. If there continues to be strong interest among companies and learners, ITE could further expand its annual WSDip intake to 2,000 trainees by 2030.
12. Apart from expanding the WSDip pathway, the Government is studying ways to help younger ITE graduates to upskill and upgrade to a diploma, including defraying the costs of diploma upgrading. We will share more details at next year's Budget and Committee of Supply.
Deepening industry partnerships
13. Quality on-the-job training is key to the success of WSDips. ITE will continue to support companies to deliver quality on-the-job training through its Train the Trainer courses.
14. This year, 1,200 company trainers have benefitted from these courses, 125 trainers have been awarded the Certified Industry Trainer certificate, and four will be receiving the Advanced Certified Industry Trainer Certificate, or ACIT for short.
15. Attaining the ACIT is not easy – recipients must have the necessary professional qualifications, possess relevant work experience, and apply their newly acquired skills at the workplace by conducting in-house training for their companies.
16. One of the ACIT recipients is Senior Nurse Educator, Jeffrey Woo from Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, who wished to upskill himself to provide better learning experiences at his workplace. The Train the Trainer courses have equipped him with the skills and confidence needed to deliver high quality training. Now, he conducts learners' needs analysis to develop customised lesson plans that meet the unique training needs of his nursing staff.
17. The WSDip partnerships illustrate the collective responsibility from all stakeholders:
- Individuals taking ownership of their own skills upgrading in support of their career goals;
- Enterprises going beyond sponsoring the training to co-developing and delivering curriculum through On-the-Job Training; and
- Government and the Institutes of Higher Learning such as ITE creating the enabling conditions to help both individuals and companies succeed.
This is the collective responsibility that we would like to see more of in our new way forward.
18. To the 441 graduands here today, I encourage you to continue to apply and build on the skills you have acquired in the WSDip. I look forward to seeing your further contributions to your respective industries and the Singapore economy at large. Do not stop your passion and drive for learning and acquiring new and higher-level skills and knowledge. I wish you all the best in your respective careers and continue to be excellent role models and inspirations to everyone around you.
19. To the industry partners, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for your strong support. With the launch of five new WSDip courses next year, I hope that more companies will come forward and onboard and work with ITE to develop your talent pipeline by investing in WSDips.
20. Lastly, I would like to thank the management and staff of ITE for your ambition and hard work in stepping up WSDip opportunities and ensuring that more ITE graduates can upskill to a diploma with strong employment outcomes.
21. So once again, my heartiest congratulations to the Class of 2023!