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Review to ensure ITE, poly grads prepared for working world

Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman will be leading a review to see what more his ministry can do to ensure graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and the five polytechnics are prepared for the working world.

Announcing the review yesterday, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said it will be important to ensure the graduates "acquire deep skills and competencies that are well matched to their interests, and also the needs of employers and the industry".

More information on the review will be shared later.

Mr Wong said diverse pathways for students is a major strength that Singapore must continue to uphold.

"Around the world, too many countries have shifted to an overly academic model of tertiary or university education," he said.

"I think in Singapore, we have been fortunate to avoid some of these imbalances, because we have paid a lot of attention over the years to our technical and vocational training. That is why we have always said that ITE is the jewel in our education system."

The "gold standard" for technical and vocational training is Germany, he noted.

It has a dual-track system where students complete a three-year apprenticeship with a company - spending about half their time learning on the job, and the other half in a vocational training school.

Such a system, undertaken by about half the cohort in Germany, is regarded very highly by society, he said.

Singapore, too, has started work-study programmes in the institutes of higher learning, especially in ITE and polytechnics.

ITE now offers 24 work-study diploma programmes, which are apprenticeship-based programmes with 70 per cent of the course delivered through structured, on-the-job training.

Mr Wong said: "They are an important applied pathway for students to learn, acquire deep skills and relevant work experience. We are starting from a strong position, but there is still more that can be done in this space."

Mr Wong was speaking at the first session of the NUS115 Distinguished Speaker Series, organised by the National University of Singapore. - JOLENE ANG

WORLD