Higher Nitec Certification - Enhanced Three-Year Curricular Structure for ITE Students from AY2022

Published Date: 30 April 2021 03:30 PM

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1. Starting with selected courses from Academic Year (AY) 2022, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will introduce a new enhanced three-year curricular structure leading directly to a Higher Nitec certification.

2. The enhanced curricular structure seeks to equip our ITE graduates with deeper industry-relevant skills for employment, as well as provide a stronger foundation for further education and skills upgrading over the course of their careers. This move is in line with the Ministry of Education's (MOE) commitment to provide opportunities for all ITE graduates to upgrade beyond a Nitec qualification over the course of their careers by 2030.

Enhanced Curricular Structure in ITE

3. Today, the two-year Nitec programmes, and the Higher Nitec programmes which are mostly two years in duration are offered separately by ITE. As such, GCE N-Level holders who enter Nitec courses will typically attain a Higher Nitec certification after four years. Currently, more than seven in 10 Nitec graduates progress to Higher Nitec or pursue other publicly-funded upgrading pathways over the course of their careers, such as the ITE Work-Study Diploma (WSDip) Programme.

4. Under the enhanced curricular structure, the Nitec and Higher Nitec curricula will be streamlined into a three-year programme by removing overlapping competencies between related Nitec and Higher Nitec courses. In Year 1, students will undertake broad-based foundation courses exposing them to fundamental skills needed for the relevant industry sector. In Years 2 and 3, they will then take more specialised modules, leading to a Higher Nitec certification.

5. As this is a significant shift involving curriculum redesign and restructuring, ITE will adopt a phased implementation approach. 16 courses – eight Nitec and eight Higher Nitec – have been identified for the first phase of implementation from AY2022. This will involve about 2,000 students admitted into Year 1 and about 1,200 students admitted into Year 2 directly. The list of courses under the enhanced curricular structure is in Annex A.

6. ITE will ensure sufficient flexibility in the curriculum to cater to a diverse range of learner profiles with different strengths, interests and learning needs. For instance, students with the abilities and aptitude will be able to attain a Higher Nitec in a shorter duration of two years via an accelerated pathway. This includes GCE O-Level holders as well as those who enrol into ITE via the Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP). Conversely those who find it more difficult to cope will be given additional learning support. For those who are unable to complete the full three-year Higher Nitec programme, they can also go out to work first with a Nitec qualification (with a transcript that documents modules already taken), and return to ITE to complete the rest of the modules at a later stage.

7. Students who graduate with a Higher Nitec can look forward to further upgrading opportunities – such as the expanded offerings of ITE's WSDips. Currently, ITE has 30 courses under the WSDips, offering more than 600 places for students to upgrade themselves while mastering their skills in a workplace environment as employees.

Leveraging Strong Industry Partnerships to Deliver Quality Workplace Learning

8. Industry Attachments (IA) will remain a key component in the enhanced curricular structure so that students continue to be equipped with industry exposure and relevant work-ready skills. Leveraging its strong network of industry partners and its unique brand of hands-on learning, ITE's enhanced curricular structure will strengthen the student learning experience with two industry attachments in the three years – a three-month IA in Year 2 and a six-month IA in Year 3, with the latter stint designed to build on the competencies of the former.

Review of Opportunities and Pathways in Applied Education

9. The enhanced curricular structure was studied as part of the Review of Opportunities and Pathways in Applied Education, led by Second Minister for Education Dr Maliki Osman. Engagements with ITE's stakeholders as part of the Review showed that students aspire to pursue further education, upgrade their skills, and remain nimble amid economic transformations. They welcomed the opportunity for ITE students to be equipped with a stronger foundation for future employment and lifelong learning prospects. ITE's industry partners also look forward to ITE graduates who are equipped with deeper skills and enhanced workplace learning experience.

10. Ms Low Khah Gek, Chief Executive Officer of ITE, said, "The ITE curricular structure is built to be flexible and responsive to the changing and rising skills demands of industry, as well as enable ITE students to be better equipped to secure good jobs, pursue skills upgrading and build their careers."

11. Members of the Review of Opportunities and Pathways in Applied Education shared their views on the enhanced ITE curricular structure. One of the members, Mr Ryan Lim, Founding Partner of QED Consulting said, "The enhanced curricular structure offers more opportunities for students to achieve higher academic aspirations as well as acquire more valuable industry-relevant skills. This will definitely help students access better career options upon graduation."

12. Another committee member, Mr Farhan Firdaus, Partner of MEET Ventures also commented, "Future students can now expect to graduate with a Higher Nitec directly via a three-year pathway. They will also gain more industry exposure from the two industry attachments, which will provide students with a stronger understanding of industry and thus be in a stronger position skills-wise when entering the workforce or pursuing further studies."

13. ITE will review the outcomes of the first phase of implementation, and make necessary adjustments to the curriculum including implementation approach and student support measures, before transiting more courses to the enhanced structure in subsequent phases after AY2024. A list of frequently asked questions on ITE's enhanced curricular structure can be found in Annex B.

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