Earn and learn programme secures career pathway for polytechnic grads
SkillsFuture programme pairs poly, ITE grads with employers
In 2014, they were in the final stretch of national service (NS) but had no clear direction of the future.
Today, Mr Ong Jia Ming and Mr Tay Soon Boon, both 25, are software engineering analysts at major consulting firm Accenture after two promotions in three years.
They joined the firm under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) in 2015 after a career talk by Accenture at their alma mater, Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), sparked their interest.
Mr Ong said: "We joined the programme to gain exposure, which led us onto a clear career pathway."
Over 1,200 polytechnic and ITE graduates have enrolled in the ELP since it started in 2015.
The work-study programme pairs fresh graduates from polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) with an employer in a related field under a 12-to-18-month contract. Participants also take a specialist diploma in the polytechnics while working. In May, undergraduate courses at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) were introduced for the ELP.
Mr Ong and Mr Tay took up a specialist diploma in information systems development with NYP.
Mr Tay said: "The specialist knowledge and skills that we acquired provided us with a strong foundation so that we could transition into our jobs smoothly."
Mr Ong and Mr Tay were also provided with on-the-job training by mentors in Accenture.
Accenture has hired 38 NYP graduates since 2015 under the ELP, of which 16 have been promoted.
Mr Sam Liew, managing director and Asean technology lead at Accenture, said: "ELP nurtures technology leaders of the future by preparing them for their careers, while boosting Singapore's position as a leading innovation hub."
To date, there are 62 ELPs in 28 sectors, and NYP is the lead sector coordinator for infocomm technology, design, media, biomedical science, healthcare, retail and food services.
Since 2015, it has partnered with over 100 companies to launch 20 ELPs, with more than 400 participants.
"The skills and working experience that our graduates gain from ELP will allow them to get a head start, and companies will find them very valuable," said an NYP spokesman.
Polytechnic's problem-based learning benefits students beyond classroom
During a service learning trip to Yangon, Myanmar, in 2015, Mr Alastair Ng, 21, and his course mates helped a shop increase sales by 400 per cent.
Using an analysis table, they identified the components lacking in the shop's catalogue of handmade handicrafts, such as product photos, product descriptions and prices. Then they designed a new catalogue.
The approach was the result of training under Republic Polytechnic's Problem-Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy.
The polytechnic rolled out PBL in all its full-time diploma programmes in 2002.
Mr Ng, who got a diploma in social enterprise management last year, is one of 37,000 Republic Polytechnic graduates trained under PBL.
Under PBL, students work in teams of four to five and solve a real-world problem for one module in class daily.
Some of the problems include devising social media strategies for a social business and choosing funding methods for a social enterprise.
Students are asked to identify the information they need for a solution under three broad sections - what they know, what they do not know and what they need to find out.
Then they study the relevant concepts before crafting a solution.
Mr Ng, who is currently in national service, said: "Working in teams built my interpersonal skills and I also grew more confident with each presentation."PBL is a "contextualised and authentic learning experience that enables students to acquire a range of cognitive competencies and industry-ready skills upon graduation", said a RP spokesman.
PBL benefited Mr Ng beyond the school curriculum.
As president of the Youth Entrepreneurship & Co-op interest group in 2015, he was able to apply the communication skills he had acquired.
In the same year, Mr Ng used the problem-solving approach to keep track of his progress while organising a youth summit during his internship at World Vision International. He also hosted the summit.
Mr Joshua Yeo, assistant programme chair for the diploma in social enterprise management, said: "Many social enterprises are looking for problem-solvers, and PBL's learning strategies cater to industry demand by focusing on problems and real-world experiences."