Apprenticeships vital to developing skilled workforce

Apprenticeships vital to developing skilled workforce

I agree with Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah that our vocational institutes and polytechnics need to develop a structured curriculum that includes apprenticeships lasting between six months and a year (“Longer stints in industry likely for ITE, poly students”; April 13).

Singapore may face a labour crunch in its technology- and knowledge-based industries in the future.

Employers should reduce their dependence on foreign-trained professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

If our economy is to grow and continue to be competitive, the country must invest in time-tested apprenticeships to produce our own skilled workforce.

The German concept requires students who have chosen vocational training to work as apprentices while being schooled. We should emulate this model as it minimises training waste.

The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee ought to consider fresh approaches to vocation-oriented pedagogy that would lead to meaningful employment in various industries. Perhaps it could recommend an extension of course durations by three to six months if necessary.

Intensive on-the-job training not only imparts practical skills but also imbues apprentices with the rudiments of human relations, administration and management in the real working world.

An eight-week work attachment is not enough for a student to learn the ropes. A longer-term arrangement may also encourage bosses to offer candidates jobs after graduation.

The Government and businesses must share the cost of trainee allowances equally, because developing our own skilled workforce is crucial for economic competitiveness.

Letter from Paul Chan Poh Hoi

This article was published on April 24 in The Straits Times.

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