Singapore

Work-study scheme draws keen interest

SkillsFuture degree programmes at SIT and SUSS oversubscribed

A new scheme modelled after the renowned German and Swiss system of apprenticeship has seen keen interest from university students, with close to 200 applying for the roughly 65 places on offer this year.

Under the SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programmes that started in January, undergraduates at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) can work and study for their degrees concurrently.

The scheme is meant to better support the growing proportion of degree holders here amid a more challenging job landscape.

It aims to ensure that the skills students acquire are directly relevant to the industry they plan to enter and support workers hoping to upgrade skills through a degree course.

At SIT, there are two work-study programme models.

The first largely caters to students without full-time working experience, who alternate between studying for one or two terms and working with a sponsoring firm over the course of their degree programme.

On top of paying for the students' work stints, the companies may provide a study allowance and cover tuition fees.

They may also offer the students full-time employment before graduation, with a bond.

After being interviewed, 34 students out of the 100 who applied were admitted to this programme in the January intake.

The other model targets working adults, who alternate between working three or four days in the partner firm and studying for the remaining one or two days each week.

SIT offers the programme for its food technology and civil engineering courses.

Partner companies can send interested employees on the scheme as long as they produce a letter declaring their support for the student to take time off work to study.

Potential students who are interested can also approach their companies to discuss the possibility of their employers becoming partners with SIT under eligible programmes.

Six SIT students were accepted into this programme in July.

At SIT, there are more than 10 company partners, including building contractor Shincon Industrial and American ingredient supplier Ingredion.

At SUSS, six of 25 finance students who applied last year have been placed under the work-study programme with Standard Chartered Bank. They spend three days a week at work and two days attending classes.

They may be employed by StanChart after graduation.

The bank will be recruiting 13 students for next year's programme.

Meanwhile, more than 30 students from SUSS have applied for the scheme this year.

The National University of Singapore is also piloting a scheme called the Cooperative Education Programme, which will place students on 18-month internships.

It will kick off with students in the business analytics and information security programmes, who will start their internships in May next year.

Singtel's group chief human resources officer Aileen Tan said the SkillsFuture scheme is a "win-win proposition", giving its 11 apprentices the chance to hone their skills in a real-world setting, while developing a talent pipeline for the firm.

Professor Ho Yew Kee, SIT's associate provost for SkillsFuture and staff development, said SIT has received encouraging feedback from students and employers.

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