Speeches/Interviews

July 28, 2018

Speech by Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, at the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Carnival

Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore,

Principals and colleagues from the polytechnics, ITE, and Autonomous Universities

Industry partners,

Students, graduates, and parents,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Welcome to the second SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Carnival! Supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), the Carnival is only possible because of the support of the five polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), and our industry programme partners such as TUM Asia and SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC). Mr Ng Cher Pong and his SSG team have been working hard to make this month-long SkillsFuture Festival possible, which aims to inspire Singaporeans to develop their passion for learning and to pursue skills mastery, and continue learning even after we leave polytechnic or ITE.

2. The inaugural Carnival was held last year to positive public response and involvement, with more than 2,000 participants and 23 participating companies. We are happy to see that the Carnival has grown. We are expecting over 3,000 visitors, with over 35 participating companies from 27 sectors this year.

SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP)

3. One of the main goals of the SkillsFuture movement is to empower Singaporeans to attain skills mastery, regardless of their starting point. To support this goal, we launched the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) in 2015, and I think we have seen a roll out of many ELPs over the last three years. I’m happy to have gotten the opportunity to launch many of these programmes. Through the ELP, fresh ITE and polytechnic graduates are matched to suitable companies to pursue an industry-recognised qualification as they work and learn at the same time. They essentially get the best of both worlds, where they can continue to learn after graduation, and they are still able to work – I understand the typical programme sees the student going to school on one day, and working the other four days of the week. This lets the participants validate what they are learning in school, and apply their theoretical knowledge in a fruitful way.

4. This gives them valuable opportunities to deepen their skills in their chosen field even as they prepare to enter the workforce. And I have met many ELP participants in the past three years, like Mr Feroz Khan, who benefits from the head-start he gets in his career. Feroz joined the 12-month Specialist Diploma in Supply Chain Management ELP by Republic Polytechnic two years ago, as he was keen to enter the logistics industry. Under the ELP, he was matched to Pan Asia Logistics, and he subsequently continued his employment there. He gained first-hand experience in the industry in warehouse operations, which includes the use of a lot of robotics and artificial intelligence. Pan Asia Logistics noticed Feroz’s capabilities and decided to groom him as a leader. After working with the company for two years, Feroz now leads a team of 25 staff, at a young age. His superiors are impressed with his performance, and I understand that they even have plans to support Feroz to upgrade his knowledge with the Bachelor of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management programme offered by the Singapore University of Social Sciences. And we know there are many such stories.

Update on Work-Learn Programmes

5. As you can see, the ELP has proven to be an attractive and viable alternative pathway after graduation. Even as you think about various pathways after graduation, why not spend 12 months in an ELP? You can really benefit from it. Between its inception three years ago and June this year, about 2,400 trainees have joined the ELP. Of these, about 110 are enrolled in ELPs to pursue the ITE Work-Learn Technical Diploma, a dedicated apprenticeship-based pathway for ITE graduates of all ages.

6. We will continue to grow the range of programmes offered to expand the benefits of the ELP to more companies and students in ITE and polytechnics. Through the efforts of our Institutes’ of Higher Learning (IHLs’), the number of ELPs has grown. Three years ago, the number of ELPs was 15, and it has grown by about six-fold to 97 today. They currently span 33 sectors, up from 12 in 2015, and include diverse areas such as Advanced Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, and Digital Marketing. We aim to roll out ELPs in all major industry sectors, as well as emerging ones that are key to Singapore’s growth, that will provide good jobs for ITE and polytechnic graduates, and Singaporeans.

7. In addition, we have also been working hard to diversify the types of ELPs and work-learn programmes. In May this year, Ngee Ann Polytechnic started its inaugural run of the ELP in Entrepreneurship, also known as the Start-up Talent Factory. This first-of-its-kind ELP supports the local entrepreneurship ecosystem in talent recruitment, and provides enterprising polytechnic students with opportunities to experience and pick up relevant entrepreneurial skills in a start-up environment. I am happy to share that to date, 24 participants have been placed in 20 startups, and the number continues to grow.

8. Complementing the ELP are degree level work-learn programmes or what we call, SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programmes (WSDPs). The WSDPs cater mainly to those who are still pursuing full-time undergraduate studies and also provide more options for technically-inclined students to pursue careers in selected growth sectors. As of July this year, 116 students are enrolled in WSDPs. As you can see, we have a wide repertoire of programmes and initiatives.

Launch of SkillsFuture Work-Learn Bootcamp

9. Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of a new work-learn pathway, called the SkillsFuture Work-Learn Bootcamp. This programme is jointly developed between SSG, the IHLs, and Generation, a US-based non-profit social organisation founded by McKinsey & Company. The Work-Learn Bootcamp will target sectors with jobs in acute demand, such as digital marketing, and also facilitate rapid upskilling in these industries. Both fresh graduates from the IHLs and mid-career individuals can participate in the Work-Learn Bootcamps.

10. To equip our participants in skills that meet the needs of the sector, the Work-Learn Bootcamp involves and engages closely with employers to identify the skills found in peak performers, so we know what makes them successful in specific jobs. It is a bootcamp–style programme; very intense. The programme is developed to train participants in these skills, before they are placed in the company. So it’s a bit like an orientation or a crash course. Participants receive eight to 12 weeks of classroom training in behavioural attributes, mind-set and technical skills related to a specific job role. So you know the requirements before you are even placed, to make sure that you are well-placed and succeed in that job.

11. The Work-Learn Bootcamp will be launched as a three-year pilot programme. I am happy to share that Republic Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies under Nanyang Polytechnic have commenced the first run of the programme for the job role of Digital Marketing earlier this month, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic will start the second run later this year.

Conclusion

12. The ELP’s work-learn pathway allows a substantial part of the curriculum to be delivered through structured on-the-job training at the workplace. We do it this way because we believe it is the best way for you to apply your learning, and the best way for us to validate that what we teach is what the industry wants. Hence, ELP’s success depends on strong commitment and support from the industry. As of June 2018, close to 680 employers have participated in the ELP, a growth of more than 30% over the previous year. We are delighted to have more than 35 industry partners taking part in today’s Carnival, and I hope you will find some time to explore the various booths. Their participation will create greater awareness and interest in ELP among polytechnic and ITE students, as well as their parents. And it is important to get parents on board, because I know our students also defer to their parents for advice and feedback.

13. On behalf of MOE and SSG, I would like to say a big thank you to all the employers, trade and industry associations who have partnered us on the ELPs. We are just beginning, and we look forward to your continued support. Your support has made the ELP an important part of our education landscape. We hope to work closely with employers to address your manpower needs, and jointly build up the next generation of talent for the workforce.

14. I would also like to thank all our students and graduates for supporting the ELP. Keep up the good work, and I encourage you to spread the word to your friends and family, schoolmates, so that they can also benefit from what the ELP has to offer.

15. Congratulations on the second Earn and Learn Carnival! I wish one and all an enriching, enjoyable and wonderful weekend ahead. Thank you.