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Workplace the best arena for developing skills: Heng

Polytechnic and ITE education should enable the young to learn deep skills and expertise not only in schools but in their areas of work, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat says.

SINGAPORE: No experience in the classroom can replicate what the working world has to offer in terms of skills development, though the Government is committed to ensuring education at polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) remains attractive, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking on Wednesday (July 16) at the closing ceremony of the WorldSkills Singapore competition at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio, Mr Heng said: “We can have all sorts of simulations in the class, and indeed, we do a lot of that to accelerate the learning of our students. But at the end of the day, what better place to apply your skills and knowledge and develop all sorts of soft and hard skills than the workplace itself?”

Referring to the work of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review Committee, Mr Heng said efforts would be made to ensure polytechnic and ITE education, which he called “one of the jewels” of Singapore’s education system, enables the young to learn deep skills and expertise not only in schools but in their areas of work.

“Important and interesting proposals” have been put forward, the minister said.

As technology improves, deeper skills will be needed in many areas of Singapore’s society and economy.

“Skills are valuable for you to pursue your dreams and passions, and a nation of people with deep skills will enable us to achieve success together,” Mr Heng said, speaking to an audience that included educators, parents and students.

He added: “The many people you might have seen who have done well in their careers are those who are deeply committed to what they do and to learning day in, day out, every day on the job.”

Young students starting their careers should consider “very seriously” how to turn everyday tasks in the workplace into learning opportunities. “You have built for yourselves a strong skills foundation. Don’t waste your training. Keep deepening your skills, stay relevant and keep up with changes,” Mr Heng said.

“Persevere in working towards becoming masters of your craft. My hope is for you not just to use your skills to create wonders but also to improve the way we do things and improve our society,” he added.

Mr Heng also presented awards to the winners of WorldSkills Singapore, which is a skills competition organised by the ITE and the five polytechnics.

Over three days, 142 students competed in 17 skill areas ranging from aircraft maintenance to web design.

The top medallists will have the chance to represent Singapore at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August next year.

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