More pathways to help students gain real-life skills

More pathways to help students gain real-life skills
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat being briefed by chef Nicholas Ng, a culinary teacher at Assumption Pathway, during his visit to the specialised secondary school on 5th November 2014.

Graduates of specialised secondary schools Northlight and Assumption Pathway will soon be able to tap new work and study programmes to better prepare themselves for the workforce.

The two-year programmes, announced by the Ministry of Education yesterday, start next year and cater to students who are unable to qualify for the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) or do not feel ready to join the workforce.

The new programmes, Northlight Academy and Assumption Pathway Academy, will run within the two schools, which recruit students who have failed the Primary School Leaving Examinations.

Students will work three days a week and study the remaining two days, on a monthly allowance of between $450 and $500. At the end of the two years, the students will receive a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) certification.

Touring Assumption Pathway School yesterday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the new academies are part of the ministry's plan to provide more pathways to help students develop skills and ease into the workplace successfully.

"We have always been looking at how well our students do after they leave school, and not just the results they achieve in school," said Mr Heng.

"We are looking at how all the different pathways in our education system lead to success in life and at work."

Northlight and Assumption Pathway students learn literacy and numeracy skills and receive vocational training in areas such as hospitality services and mechanical servicing. They graduate with an ITE Skills Certificate, which qualifies them to enter the workforce or the ITE if their grades permit.

Northlight has about 200 students in their fourth, or final, year and Assumption 160. About 40 per cent of these students go on to the ITE or full-time training programmes, and a further 25 per cent go on to work.

Ninety students are expected to enrol in the two academies next February. Current fourth-year students at the two schools are eligible for the new programmes.

Mr Eric Leong, principal of Assumption Pathway School, said: "We will teach them more real-life skills... for example, communicating with customers." Students who go to the academies will already have an ITE Skills Certificate, he said, but the academies will give them WSQ certification, which "seriously makes them more valuable".

And if a student is still unable to enter the ITE after graduating from the new academy, Mr Leong said, there should be no problems getting a job.

"All our kids will get a job even if they graduate at this point in time... Our strong partners are more than willing to work with us... so job referral is not a problem at all," he said.

The school works with industry partners such as Crossings Cafe in Waterloo Street, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, and Holiday Inn Singapore.

Yesterday, NTUC FairPrice said in a statement that it will partner the new Northlight Academy to offer a structured work attachment programme for students interested in supermarket retail.

Fourth-year Assumption Pathway student Nor Syafiqah Kayat, 18, hopes her grades will allow her to go to the ITE next year. "But if I can't enter the ITE, I hope to find work as a baker, or go to the academy," said the student who specialises in baking practices.

"Baking is my passion. It is like magic," she added.

This article was first published on Nov 6, 2014.
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