New statutory boards to change how Singapore views education

By Channel News Asia: Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung announced the formation of two new statutory boards to drive the national focus on skills and employment is a “timely move” that will change how Singapore looks at education.

“Education and lifelong learning will be integrated as one. This will make us look at education differently — that it is no longer just confined to schools and institutes of higher learning, but it is a personal lifelong pursuit for mastery and excellence.” The two statutory boards will also help to increase the “synergies in the development of manpower and skills”, he added.

The SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) statutory board will take over some functions of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and absorb the Council for Private Education statutory board, which oversees private schools.

Meanwhile, the WDA will be reconstituted into Workforce Singapore (WSG), which remains under the Manpower Ministry, and will focus on jobs and helping companies become manpower-lean while staying competitive.

Mr Ong was speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between 17 companies and four educational institutions — Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) – as part of a move to boost the power sector. Two new initiatives were launched — the SkillsFuture: Enhanced Internships and Earn and Learn Programme (ELP).

Under the enhanced internships, more than 800 polytechnic and ITE electrical engineering students will spend six months gaining practical working experience in the power engineering sector. From March, a new structure will be put in place, and the programme also aims to make “good mentorship and guidance a norm”, said Mr Ong. This programme currently comes under the purview of MOE.

On the other hand, the ELP will cater to polytechnic graduates who are ready to step into the workforce. Polytechnics will match graduates with jobs in the relevant sectors, following which the graduates will build their skills and knowledge through on-the-job training and institution-based learning.

Under the ELP, SP will offer the 18-month Advanced Diploma in Power Engineering from April, while NP will kickstart a new 12-month Specialist Diploma in Electrical Design and Operation in October. The ELP will be managed by WDA under the Manpower Ministry.

Moving forward, both the enhanced internships and ELPs will be handled by the SSG, as MOE will be overseeing all SkillsFuture functions. Mr Ong added that these two new initiatives must be managed in a “coherent manner in the interest of students and industry”.

“With this change, we can pursue skills development and support lifelong learning in a more holistic and coherent fashion, gradually erasing the lines drawn between Pre-Employment Training and Continuing Education and Training. At the same time with this structure, we will begin to bridge qualification systems in the academic and work skills development domains,” he said.