SINGAPORE - Industry attachments for students in polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) may soon be extended to give young people more time to deepen their work skills.
This means having students spend up to a year, instead of just months, as an intern or apprentice in a company for training, and pick up tricks of the trade that cannot be taught in school, according to Ms Indranee Rajah.
"When you're with a company for a month... there's not much an employer can do with you, except to give you just a more cursory sense of the work," said the Senior Minister of State for Law and Education.
"But if you are with them for a longer period... when you have a real responsibility, then the experience is quite different because you actually have to produce and deliver."
Currently, polytechnics and ITE students complete work attachments that range from one to six months during their course of study.
That, said Ms Indranee, may be extended to between six months and a year. But practical training still has to be delivered within the duration of students' courses - two years in ITE and three years in polytechnics.
Ms Indranee was speaking to The Sunday Times in Melbourne earlier this month after a five-day study trip to Australia and New Zealand with members of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee, which she chairs.
This is the second such visit by the committee, which travelled to Germany and Switzerland in February to study the European model.
Both visits, Ms Indranee said, showed good examples of vocational training, validating some of what Singapore is doing right. "But it also tells us there's more to be done," she said.
For instance, the move to take learning out of the classroom and into the workplace can work only if the industry takes on a bigger role to train and mentor the students from the ITE and five polytechnics here, she added.
This means companies here must be prepared to take on the role of an educator like their German or Swiss counterparts, instead of just relying on the educational institutions to prepare youth in ITE and polytechnics for work.