11th TED Project Fair at Institute of Technical Education
Singapore, 27 February 2020
Oliver Fixson, Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy
Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO of the Institute of Technical
Mr Suresh Natarajan, Principal of ITE College Central,
[Rohde Schwarz, Bosch Rexroth]
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to be present today at the Institute of Technical Education on the occasion of the 11th Project Fair of the ITE Technical Engineer Diploma in Machine Technology.
This project fair would be an interesting thing to see in any case, but there are special reasons why I am glad I can be here.
First, the work of ITE in vocational training is something which is very close to our heart at the German Embassy. The system of vocational training developed in Germany – practical instruction in a company or factory, combined with theoretical instruction in a specialized school – is something we are very proud of. It produces high-quality graduates who are well able to meet the expectations of business and industry, and it does so while all the time building a link between the students and the company which is employing them during their training. It is therefore little wonder that for almost all of the graduates it is the normal and desirable sequel to their education to continue to be employed by, and work for “their” company. There is even a word describing this mutual loyalty: it is “übernommen werden”, literally “to be taken over”, i.e. from a training contract to a proper employment contract. For this reason, this form of vocational training is very much in the interest of the participating companies as well, and they enthusiastically support it.
Singaporean-German cooperation in this field has a long history. It was in 1990, a generation back, that then
Education Minister Tony Tan led a study visit to the German State of Baden-Wurttemberg to explore options for cooperation. Soon the first MoU was signed, to be renewed again and again to this day. In the framework of this cooperation, ITE developed its own version of vocational training, adapted to circumstances and needs in Singapore. The ITE Technical Engineer Diplomas (in machine technology and automotive engineering) have been the results. They were ITE’s first diploma programmes, and BadenWurttemberg’s first programmes of this kind outside
Germany – so a first for both sides! They fill a critical niche: that for deep-tech savvy employees, highly skilled people in the precision engineering sector.
And the story continues: on the occasion of the State visit of
Madame Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore, to
Germany, no less than six new MoUs were signed between ITE and German companies, and the President made use of the occasion of her State visit to visit a number of businesses in Berlin, Frankfurt and Heidelberg, to see with her own eyes the most modern of training practices.
Today, of course, vocational training is no longer something people do only before they enter the labour market for the first time. The more and more rapid progress of technology in the age of digitalization forces everyone to keep learning, to update several times in his or her life what he or she has learned years ago. Training methods, curricula and contents will have to adapt to this inevitable development. The State will have to create incentives to make permanent learning and training attractive for both employees and employers – you will all be familiar with Singapore’s SkillsFuture scheme, for instance, which aims at doing exactly that. The strongest incentive of all is and remains, of course, competitiveness: competitiveness of businesses in trade and services, and competitiveness of employees in the labour market.
In a nutshell: You, dear graduates, have got an education in a field which will be more and more relevant, and you have acquired both technical and management and communication skills in the process. These are ideal qualifications for the labour market. When you enter it, please do not forget: There are German companies active in Singapore and South-East Asia which are on the look-out for exactly these skills. I would be happy to meet many of you again working for one German company or another.
Congratulations on your success in ITE – and good luck for what is coming after that!
Thank you for your attention.