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New programme puts skills to work

The Place-and-Train programme is a powerful way to put applied learning and skills deepening into practice, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) aims to provide more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students to improve their career prospects.

The programme will be launched in 2016 for fresh polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates in sectors which require deeper skills training.

Educators will work with industry stakeholders in designing courses to ensure its content is relevant.

Graduates will become salaried employees, and potentially receive higher pay upon completion of the programme if they do well.

"Applied education is essential for a high value-added manufacturing industry and for long-term careers that progress in a focused way," said Mr Jonathan Asherson, regional director of Asean and Pacific, Rolls-Royce Singapore.

But employers said there might be challenges in terms of cost, especially for small and medium enterprises.

"If you want to sustain your business growth in the long-term, you'll have to invest in manpower," said Dr Lim Boon Huat, managing director of Rohde & Schwarz Asia.

MINDSET CHANGE

Another challenge is the need for a mindset change. Parents included, said Senior Minister of State Indranne Rajah, who is the chairman of the Aspire steering committee.

Some parents may be more wary of the success rates of such a programme. Which is why involving specific industries in the programme planning has been "very important".

"If you can have good outcomes and progression prospects, even when you have diploma or ITE qualifications, after awhile, people will look at it and say, 'others have succeeded, my child can succeed this way as well'."