At the Committee of Supply Debate 2017, the Ministry of Education (MOE) outlined a 5-year plan to transform the higher education and lifelong learning landscape. Efforts will be made to expand education pathways to support individuals in discovering and pursuing their strengths and interests, and developing mastery in their chosen fields. These initiatives are in line with the national SkillsFuture movement, and the recommendations of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) to provide individuals with opportunities to develop and deepen their skills.
Expanding Pathways to Recognise Students’ Aptitude and Deepen Industry-Relevant Skills
Strengthening aptitude-based admissions in Polytechnics
2. MOE will expand opportunities for aptitude-based admissions into the polytechnics and ITE, to encourage students to pursue their aptitudes and interests, and broaden measures of merit beyond academic grades.
3. The intake allowance for the Polytechnic Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) will be increased to 15% from Academic Year (AY) 2018, following encouraging outcomes for the AY2017 Polytechnic EAE. This will enable a larger group of students to be considered for admission into polytechnics based on broader measures of abilities beyond examination results.
4. The Polytechnic EAE was introduced in 2016 to allow students to apply for conditional admission to polytechnic courses based on their course-specific aptitudes and interests, prior to taking their GCE O-Level examinations or ITE final examinations. In the first year, each polytechnic was able to admit up to 12.5% of its intake for AY2017 via the EAE.
5. The Polytechnic EAE has been well-received by students and institutions. Close to 8,000 O-Level students and 3,200 ITE students applied for EAE for AY2017, of which more than 4,200 of them received conditional offers. Following the release of the O-Level results this year, 2,500 O-Level students had their EAE offers confirmed. The utilisation rate of the polytechnic EAE is projected to be between 11% and 12%, including the projected confirmed offers for ITE students whose final results will be out in March 2017. Most of the confirmed offers were in courses where aptitude and passion are more crucial for mastery of the skills required in the sector, such as nursing, social work and game design.
Introduction of ITE Early Admissions Exercise (ITE EAE)
6. An ITE EAE will also be introduced from 2017, for admission into ITE courses from AY2018. The ITE EAE will be a consolidation and expansion of ITE current Special College Admissions Scheme (SCAS) and Special Admissions Exercise (SAE).
7. Under the ITE EAE, secondary school students will be able to apply for conditional admission to Nitec and Higher Nitec courses prior to taking their GCE N- and O-Level examinations. It will also open a new pathway for Nitec students, allowing them to apply for conditional admission to Higher Nitec courses prior to taking their Nitec final examinations. Similar to the polytechnics, ITE will be able to admit up to 15% of their Academic Year intake through the ITE EAE.
8. At the individual course level, aptitude-based admissions via the ITE EAE may constitute up to 30% of the intake of each course. This is in line with current practice for the Polytechnic EAE. However, for about one-third of courses, where the ability to do well depends on a range of qualities beyond academic grades, and where passion for the field is especially important, the course-level allowance will be set higher, at 50%. Examples of such courses include those in nursing, community care, information technology, and design and media. The list of courses with a course-level allowance of 50% can be found in the Annex.
Learning by doing
9. At the post-secondary level, two new work-learn programmes will be introduced to encourage students to learn by doing, and provide them with opportunities to acquire relevant skills for their future careers.
10. First, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme will be expanded to include a new work-learn skills-based pathway for ITE graduates, which will lead to an ITE Technical Diploma. This will be available in sectors such as Mechanical and Electrical Services, Design and Supervision, Security System Engineering, Rehabilitation Therapy and Offshore and Marine Engineering. It will provide opportunities for ITE graduates in technical fields to hone their mastery and craft through skills upgrading. More details will be made available in due course.
11. Second, at the university level, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and SIM University (UniSIM) will introduce new SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programmes this year that will provide more options for technically inclined students keen on pursuing careers in selected growth sectors. Through such programmes, where institutional learning is interlaced with on-the-job training, students will get to work at partner companies while studying. The courses will be offered in a mix of modalities (e.g. term-in/term-out, 3-day work/2-day study, etc.) to better meet companies’ business and operational needs. Similar programmes will also be offered by the National University of Singapore (NUS) from AY2017, with courses in Information Security, Business Analytics, and Data Science and Analytics.
Enhanced Support for Lifelong Learning
12. To help even more Singaporeans benefit from SkillsFuture, SkillsFuture Singapore will partner People’s Association and the Community Development Councils (CDCs), as well as Workforce Singapore and e2i, to conduct briefing sessions and workshops at the community level to explain SkillsFuture to Singaporeans, and guide them in finding the right training programmes and the right skills to prepare themselves for the future.
13. A one-stop portal is also being developed to enable Singaporeans to make sense of the labour market information, search for the training programmes to build skills, and chart their own pathways. It will also bring together the national Jobs Bank. Previously known by the working title of individual learning portfolio, it will be called MySkillsFuture and will be launched soon.
14. To help Singaporeans prepare for the future economy, we will launch a Future@Work programme, which will offer basic working knowledge in critical areas that cut across different industries. Its coverage will include an understanding of emerging technologies and their impact on our work, how to interpret and use data, as well as the importance of having a mind-set for change, innovation and resilience. More details will be announced later.