Speech by Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State (Ministry of Education), at the Virtual Work-Study Fair

Published Date: 12 August 2020 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Colleagues, Partners, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen

2. A very good morning to everyone. It is my pleasure to be part of this year's SkillsFuture Work-Study Fair, a key event of the ongoing SkillsFuture Month.

3. Although this is the fourth edition of our Work-Study Fair, it is the first time that we are doing this as an entirely virtual event. COVID-19 may have brought about the need for limitations on physical gatherings, but it does not dampen our pursuit of lifelong learning and skills mastery. So, just as we have done in previous years, today's Fair continues to bring together employers, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and private training providers, to showcase their Work-Study offerings. And because it is entirely virtual this year, prospective students have the added luxury of being able to browse the range of offerings from the comfort of their own home.

Progress of Existing Work-Study Programmes

4. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed our way of life, but also significantly disrupted our economy. Recovery will take time, and the job market will be challenging in the coming years. Many students are therefore concerned about their employment prospects as they graduate and step out into the workforce.

5. We are committed to helping Singaporeans find jobs and training opportunities.

Among these, the SGUnited Traineeships cater to new graduates entering the workforce, and allow them to gain valuable industry-relevant experience. The IHLs are also leaning forward to offer free CET modules to their graduates in a wide range of areas.

6. I would like to encourage our fresh graduates to also consider Work-Study Programmes. Besides conferring a higher educational qualification, Work-Study Programmes allow participating students to continue honing their industry-relevant skillsets through on-the-job training and work-based projects. From the employers' perspective, these programmes enable companies to build their talent pipeline early. This is especially crucial to companies looking to jumpstart their post-pandemic recovery.

7. We strongly believe in the unique value proposition of Work-Study Programmes to both students and employers. This is why we have committed to expand the Work-Study Programmes and make this a mainstream pathway, as part of our plans under the Next Bound of SkillsFuture. We have set ourselves a target of making Work-Study opportunities available to 12% of each cohort by year 2025.

8. Since the launch of the first slate of Work-Study Programmes in 2015, more than 5,600 students have benefited from these programmes, and more than 1,400 companies have participated. The number of Work-Study Programmes has also expanded significantly from 15 programmes across 12 sectors, to 173 programmes across 36 sectors.

New Work-Study Programmes

9. I am heartened by the efforts of our IHLs to continually enhance their programme offerings, and seek out new collaborations with industry partners to extend the benefits of Work-Study Programmes.

10. For example, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and SSG have partnered Sea Limited, a Singapore-based global consumer Internet company, to launch the Bachelor of Technology in Computing Work-Study Degree. Some of you would have heard that Sea Limited has quietly become Southeast Asia's biggest company, with a market value of over $65 billion.

11. The NUS-Sea collaboration will be the first SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree to be delivered in a Place-and-Train modality. Participants in this programme will be hired as full-time Junior Analysts at Sea Limited. Upon completion of the three-and-a-half-year programme, trainees will graduate with a Bachelor of Technology Degree conferred by NUS and will progress in the company to become full-time Analysts.

12. For the inaugural run, NUS and Sea have partnered Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to invite their graduates to participate in this Work-Study Degree Programme. I am glad to share that Sea has committed to hiring 120 students over the next five years.

13. I am also pleased to announce that the other polytechnics - Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic - have made good progress as well. They will be launching new Work-Study Programmes in sectors such as Biomedical Sciences and Media, in partnership with the industry partners.

New Collaborations with Industry Partners

14. Our IHLs are also working closely with accreditation bodies and intermediaries such as the unions and Trade Associations & Chambers.

15. Singapore Polytechnic is co-developing an enhanced curriculum with the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) for the Work-Study Diploma in Applied Science (Chemical Laboratory Technology). Upon completion of the course, graduates will receive an additional Work-Study Certificate awarded jointly by SAC and Singapore Poly.

16. Singapore Polytechnic will also be working with other partners such as Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA), Blockchain Association Singapore (BAS), United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries (UWEEI) and Banking & Financial Services Union (BFSU) to explore possibilities to develop Semiconductor and Fintech-related Work-Study programmes.

Skillsfuture Work-Study Portal

17. To ramp up Work-Study Programmes and to cater to a growing number of sign-ups from individuals and employers, SSG has developed a new online portal, known as the SkillsFuture Work-Study Portal.

18. The SkillsFuture Work-Study Portal aims to facilitate greater outreach and improve the job matching efficiency of the Work-Study Programmes. The portal is a one-stop platform for prospective students to learn more about Work-Study Programmes and sign up for jobs offered by participating companies. Employers can also use the portal to register their interest to participate in Work-Study Programmes, post job vacancies and even hire suitable trainees through the programmes.

19. I'm glad to share that currently we have over 130 Work-Study opportunities featured on the portal. I am confident that we will see this number continue to grow.

Conclusion

20. I urge all students and graduates here to continue discovering your strengths and to tap on the Work-Study Programmes to seize opportunities even in the most difficult of times.

21. I would like to thank our IHLs for their continual efforts in expanding the Work-Study Programmes, and our industry partners and employers who have shown great support. With the help of our partners, we will be able to shape our future together one step at a time.

22. I wish one and all a rewarding experience at this year's Work-Study Fair. Thank you.

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