Modular courses ideal for working adults

Modular courses ideal for working adults
A SkillsFuture roadshow held by the Workforce Development Agency in February 2016.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Hoping to stay competitive in his job despite various commitments and a busy schedule, engineer Mohamed Johannes Wahid took up a modular course in maritime and offshore operations two years ago.

The 36-year-old, who learnt about the activities carried out in the oil and gas industry, and the financial and safety requirements, completed the short course at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) last April, after about five months.

He now applies what he had learnt from the classroom to his job in a subsea services company.

Mr Johannes, who has two children and is expecting his third, said such courses are ideal for working adults who may have work and family responsibilities.

"I believe lifelong learning is better in short courses, as working adults... might not be able to commit to long-term programmes."

Like him, Singaporeans hoping to stay relevant in a fast-evolving economy can look forward to more bite-sized courses, making it easier for them to learn at their own pace.

These skills-based modular courses, aimed at working adults, may be stacked up towards qualifications such as diplomas and degrees.

There were more than 500 - or 513 to be exact - modular courses last year, up from 338 in 2015.

On average, these courses, offered at the polytechnics and universities, can be completed within three to six months.

The Education Ministry (MOE) will work with institutions to offer more such courses this year.

It said such courses offer flexibility to those juggling upgrading with personal and work commitments.

"Enrolment is not high yet, but it is steadily rising," MOE added.

"Beyond modularity, it is more important that the courses meet industry needs," it said.

The ministry noted that institutions need to keep abreast with industry changes, and rope in practitioners to work with them to develop relevant courses.

Institutes of higher learning are seeing growing demand for these courses.

Some institutions, such as SP, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic, said that the short courses are an incentive for workers to keep learning.

Others, such as Singapore Management University, Republic Polytechnic and Singapore Institute of Technology, added that the flexibility these learning options offer is a draw.

Helping workers acquire and use deep skills was one of the seven strategies spelt out by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) to prepare Singaporeans for upcoming challenges.

As jobs are likely to change at a faster pace, "we must go beyond the pursuit of the highest possible academic qualifications early in life, to seek knowledge, experience and skills throughout life", said the CFE.

It acknowledged that there would be a challenge in acquiring such skills, as working adults would have to balance personal development with other priorities.

That is where modular courses could be one of the ways to enable them to get up to speed in a world of constant disruptions.

calyang@sph.com.sg

This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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