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Committee looking into how poly, ITE grads can progress upwards without degree

The ASPIRE committee tasked to review the education model at polytechnics and ITEs is looking at how these students can progress upwards even without a degree, or before they get one.

SINGAPORE: A committee tasked to review the education model at polytechnics and ITEs is looking at how these students can progress upwards even without a degree, or before they get one.

This is one takeaway of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) committee, chaired by Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday (May 26), she said if all polytechnic and ITE students chase a degree route immediately, it would not result in the best outcomes for them.

Ms Indranee said both real skills and intangible qualities matter, and they must meet industry needs.

Intangible qualities, she said, include diligence, analytical skills, teamwork, communication skills, EQ, leadership qualities, problem solving skills and resilience.

She said the ASPIRE committee is looking at work-study programmes and how to structure internships to better align what is taught with what is required at the workplace.

She said upward progression for polytechnic and ITE graduates is important, and the desire for a degree is driven by the outcomes people expect a degree will give.

However, the supply of degree holders should not exceed the demand otherwise degree holders would be vulnerable to losing their jobs.

"What we should aim for, therefore, is a multiplicity of pathways that are viable options in and of themselves,” said Ms Indranee.

“So, they should be able to either pursue further studies immediately. Some do this, or work first and pursue further studies later, preferably in a related sector, or work and progress upwards through professional certifications and training, even without the need for a degree.

“Ideally, what we want is for each of these pathways to be able to still give our students the outcomes they hope for in terms of career prospects and progression. We are looking at how we can facilitate progression pathways to enable our polytechnic and ITE graduates to progress upwards even without a degree, or before they get one."

Weighing in on the issue of constructive politics, which was raised during the Parliament debate, Ms Indranee said the political process should result in better lives.

This means offering practical alternatives, acknowledging trade-offs and being responsible, Ms Indranee added.

She also said constructive politics means not "flip-flopping" in positions taken when convenient and upholding the highest standards of integrity. 

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