Address by Mr Ong Ye Kung at the Signing Ceremony for Enhanced Internship

Published Date: 18 November 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Bob Tan, Chairman, ITE

Mr Bruce Poh, Director & CEO, ITE

Board of Directors, ITE

CEOs and Industry Leaders

Ladies and Gentlemen


Today marks a significant event. We are witnessing ITE sign collaboration partnerships with many employers to enhance internships for ITE students.

Diversity of Learning Methods

SkillsFuture is a movement, and if I were to summarise SkillsFuture, it would be in three areas:

It is not just about the pursuit of education and training. It is also about the pursuit of a person’s aspirations and passions.

Second, it is not just about learning during your youthful years in school, but about learning throughout life so that you are always adding and deepening your skills in a particular field.

Thirdly, it is not just about achieving paper qualifications, but it is also about achieving skills mastery.

We need to also acknowledge that for a young person to learn, there are diverse pathways, and we have to cater to those diverse pathways. We have traditionally looked at learning in our entire education and school system in terms of pre-employment training (PET) and continuing education and training (CET). This age differentiation for learning is increasingly obsolete as learning is inherently lifelong.

It is more relevant to look at the learning pathway - one extreme is knowledge, and the other is skills. For the extreme of knowledge, Einstein had a quote that quite aptly described that pursuit. He once said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”. This describes the mindset of a pure academic institution - to them, it is about the pursuit of knowledge and seeking breakthroughs.

On the other extreme, Confucius said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. In the words of Confucius, it is important for you to do. We also hear people say that they come from the “university of life”, which means to learn by doing. This is the other extreme, in which it is very much competency-based.

In between, you have a spectrum. I recently heard from a Professor from Germany visiting Singapore who runs a technology university, who said that we must be addressing industry needs in whatever we do, but to deliver courses from the eyes of students. This is the in-between position - to cater to industry needs, and deliver from the eyes of students who have curiosity and want to learn knowledge.

This is a spectrum, and we must embrace the entire spectrum because aspiration by its nature is diverse. For ITE, it is clearly anchored in the space of doing, competency and serving the industry.

ITE’S SkillsFuture Drive

In February this year, ITE launched a strategic roadmap - ITE Trailblazer - that charts ITE’s plan for the next five years. The Enhanced Internship Programme is an important component of this strategic partnership. Internships are important when you start to anchor yourself in the space of addressing industry needs. Because it is through internships that students do not just learn, do not just hear, they also do not just see, but they actually do. That’s when they start to experience the university of life and start to understand the vocation that they want to go into, and they start to cultivate their passion. They also start to see role models within that industry. As such, internships are important in ITE’s model of education.

With the Enhanced Internship Programme, internships will be even more structured, outcomes will be measured, and there will be mentors for every student undergoing the internship. In 2016, 63 (or 62%) of all ITE’s courses from Business and Services, Engineering, Info-Comm Technology, Electronics, Design and Media, Hospitality, and Applied & Health Sciences schools will offer Enhanced Internships. By 2020, all ITE courses will have Enhanced Internships, with durations ranging from three to six months.

Support from Industry

This is made possible with the support of industry partners. Today, ITE has 370 partnerships with different companies, and over 100 companies are here today to sign the Enhanced Internship Agreements.


On behalf of ITE, I would like to thank you for your strong endorsement of the efforts to nurture the next generation of skilled Singaporeans, and your commitment and contribution to help ITE become an institute of excellence for our young.

Thank you.

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