In three to five years' time, all full-time courses at the Institute of Technical Education will include an internship component to strengthen applied learning.
Currently, it is compulsory in only about half of its full-time Nitec and Higher Nitec courses, with the internship lasting from three to six months.
The ITE also plans to revamp many of its internship programmes to make them more structured and closely tied to the course curriculum.
Its chairman, Mr Bob Tan, announced these changes yesterday even as a government review committee is looking at how studies at the ITE and polytechnics can better connect classroom lessons to the working world.
The newly formed committee is led by Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah and is expected to complete its review by next year.
When asked if the ITE revamp is in line with Ms Indranee's review, ITE chief executive Bruce Poh said he did not want to "pre-empt what the committee will recommend" but outlined the broad direction the institute will be taking.
He said: "We have to restructure the whole of the Nitec and Higher Nitec programmes so that courses without internships will offer internships, and during the internship period, the programme is more structured and students are doing applied learning."
Currently, internships tend to be more loosely managed, and interns perform tasks more on an ad-hoc basis, he added.
With the revamp, internships will have learning outcomes similar to the student's course curriculum.
"Instead of doing (the learning) in ITE, it is conducted in the company, with the same kind of rigour needed to fulfil a Nitec or Higher Nitec requirement," Mr Poh said.
The revamped internship programme, he added, calls for the companies and the ITE to work more closely.
To facilitate the teaching at the company, ITE will provide courses for workplace supervisors and trainers on how to guide the interns.
Mr Tan, Mr Poh and the ITE Board of Governors yesterday also toured Singapore's two integrated resorts, where their students are on internships.
The two companies, both industry partners of ITE, "stand out for their exemplary internship practices", said Mr Tan.
ITE student Danna Kristina M. Yap, 22, who is attached to Universal Studios Singapore, said the experience allows her to apply the skills learnt in school, like how to manage customers.
"In school, we do role-plays with our classmates and we try to prepare ourselves for many different scenarios," said the leisure and travel operations student.
"At work now, I sometimes have to talk to customers in a noisy environment, or there may be language barriers between us."
Former ITE student Davis Li, 30, said making internships compulsory is a step in the right direction. He graduated from ITE's Info-Communications Technology Nitec programme, in which it is not compulsory for students to go on industrial attachments.
"No matter what, the work experience will be good for the student," said Mr Li, who pursued further studies at Nanyang Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore.
"Even if the students do not enter the workforce immediately on graduating but decide to continue studying, the work experience gained can be transferred to their academic projects," added the programme manager at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
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