Better Choices, Deeper Skills, Multiple Paths: Government Accepts ASPIRE Committee's Recommendations

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The Government accepts the recommendations of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee 1 to further strengthen Singapore’s applied education pathways, provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential and aspirations, and to support better alignment of the supply of and demand for skills, so that Singapore will continue to prosper and be a land of hope and opportunity for everyone in the years ahead.

The ASPIRE recommendations were set out in broad strokes by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2014 National Day Rally speech. They are centred on:

  • Choices: Helping students make better education and career choices, both in school and beyond graduation;

  • Skills: Creating more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students and graduates to grow the skills they need, to excel in the career they choose to pursue;

  • Paths: Building more paths that will allow polytechnic and ITE graduates to progress in their careers by developing their skills.

Better Choices:
Helping students make better education and career choices

The government will provide more support for Singaporeans to make informed education, training and career choices, through the provision of more resources for education and career guidance (ECG) in schools, polytechnics and ITE, and a national ECG framework.

  • ECG officers for schools, polytechnics and ITE - There will be one ECG officer for every few secondary schools and junior college/centralised institute, piloting this next year with about 40 to 50 schools and junior colleges, and three to five ECG officers in each polytechnic and ITE college.

  • New ECG programme - A new ECG programme covering areas such as personal management and career exploration will be developed for the polytechnics and ITE. This will be delivered through classroom activities, workshops, seminars and visits.

New ECG training courses

A new Specialist Diploma in Career Counselling by Republic Polytechnic will be launched in October 2014. This will give ECG officers, and other individuals who are interested in developing the skills and knowledge needed to provide education and career counselling, the opportunity to do so.

One-stop ECG portal

In addition, to provide individuals with access to relevant ECG tools and information, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency will build on the Individual Learning Portfolio (ILP) pilot project to develop a one-stop online ECG portal that will be accessible to all Singaporeans, including students and working adults.

Deeper Skills:
Creating more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students and graduates to grow the skills they need, to excel in the career they choose to pursue.

The Government will invest further in the polytechnics and ITE to strengthen their model of applied education.

Enhanced Internships and more Higher Nitec places

From 2015, polytechnics will pilot enhancements to internships in selected sectors, starting with the Built Environment, Early Childhood Education, Hotel Operations and Management, and Marine and Offshore Engineering sectors. MOE will also increase the number of Higher Nitec places, starting with 100 additional places primarily in Engineering and Info-communication courses in 2015.

Sector Leads

MOE will work with polytechnics and ITE to identify lead institutions for key industry sectors, starting with Singapore Polytechnic for food technology, Ngee Ann Polytechnic for marine and offshore engineering, and Republic Polytechnic for logistics.

For each sector, the designated lead polytechnic and a partner ITE college will coordinate efforts across all institutions by working with stakeholders to strengthen linkages with the industry and enhance programme offerings.

More online learning resources

The polytechnics and ITE will also develop more online learning resources and developmental programmes to support their students’ learning and development.

Place-and-Train programmes

The Government will provide polytechnic and ITE students with more opportunities to deepen their skills after graduation, and better support their transition into the workforce.

Starting in 2016, Place-and-Train programmes will be launched for fresh polytechnic and ITE graduates in sectors which require deeper skills training. These programmes will be designed in collaboration with industry to ensure their relevance to industry. Graduates on such programmes will be salaried employees, and can potentially receive higher pay upon completion of the programme if they perform well and take on larger job scopes. They will also receive an employer-recognised skills certification.

As a start, ITE will offer their graduates place-and-train diploma programmes in emergency medical technology (or para-medicine), marine and offshore engineering, hotel & restaurant management, pastry and bakery, and environmental engineering. The polytechnics will offer post-diploma place-and-train programmes, such as Specialist or Advanced diploma programmes in aerospace, biologics, marine and offshore engineering, built environment, info-communications technology, and logistics.

Subsidies for post-diploma courses

More support will be provided for polytechnic graduates to take up their first post-diploma courses. While current course modules leading to a post-diploma certificate are offered on a part-time basis, the polytechnics will restructure some of these courses to offer an additional full-time option so that they can be completed within a shorter duration. Subsidies will also be increased to 90% of course fees, from the current 85%, for those taking up their first post-diploma certificate in selected courses, two or more years after completion of the programme. The first of these new courses leading to a post-diploma certificate, likely in the areas of engineering and info-communications technology, will be launched in October 2015.

Multiple Paths:
Building more paths that will allow polytechnic and ITE graduates to progress in their careers by developing their skills

The Government will work with employers, industry associations, and unions to develop sector-specific skills and progression frameworks for key sectors. We will also work with the universities, polytechnics, ITE and other training providers to offer industry-recognised modular courses that individuals can take to build up their skills in a targeted manner.

Conclusion

The Government believes that the ASPIRE recommendations will further strengthen Singapore’s applied education landscape, and provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential, so that Singapore will continue to be a land of hope and opportunity for everyone in the years ahead.

A concerted national effort, involving not only government agencies and education institutions, but also private sector employers, industry associations, unions and other key stakeholders, will be required to bring about the changes proposed. Besides the establishment of the Tripartite Committee chaired by DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to drive these efforts, the Government, as an employer, will also do its part to create more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE graduates in the Public Service.

The Government would like to express its appreciation to the ASPIRE Committee and each of its members for their contributions and hard work. We are committed to working together with all stakeholders in society to build multiple pathways to success in work and life for all Singaporeans.


Background to the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE)

At the official opening ceremony of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Headquarters in November 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the need to strengthen the applied education pathways in the polytechnics and ITE to better provide graduates with good career and academic progression prospects. The ASPIRE Committee, chaired by Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, was set up in January 2014 to study this.

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