Nanyang Poly scales up internship programme

SINGAPORE - Students from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) will soon be going on longer internships and interacting with industry professionals, in line with a national movement to boost skills.

The polytechnic is the first among the five here to give details of how it is improving workplace training and mentorship for students.

It comes after the SkillsFuture Council was set up last year to spearhead efforts towards an integrated system of education, training and career progression.

An Education Ministry spokesman said the other polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education have started working on internships and ways to improve existing ones.

Next month, 23 students from NYP's biologics and process technology course - about half its annual intake - will start nine-month internships, up from four months now.

Curriculum time will not be affected, but they will give up four weeks of their holidays, out of 16 a year.

NYP principal Chan Lee Mun said it worked with its partners, global drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (GSK Bio) and Novartis, to develop an internship programme that has "clear and relevant learning outcomes".

For instance, students will be assessed based on specific skills, such as laboratory procedures like wearing gowns, operating equipment and aseptic techniques, to prevent the spread of infection in the plant.

Previously, students were evaluated only on their projects or overall job performance.

They will be assigned a mentor, and there will also be a workplace supervisor to oversee some duties.

Both the mentor and supervisor will work with the polytechnic to grade the students.

Mr Mario Henke, project director of Novartis Biopharmops Singapore, said longer internships will allow students to be involved in more meaningful work. "In 18 weeks, you get just an insight, but you don't get a deep understanding."

Mr Vincent Loret, site director of GSK Vaccines, said students will spend more time learning workplace skills, including "good manufacturing practices" in areas such as safety.

NYP student R. Punitha, who is starting the internship at GSK Bio's Tuas facility, said: "I hope to gain more depth in knowledge and to see more cell culture experiments in detail."

NYP is also working on improving students' attachments in other fields like retail, health care and precision engineering.

On Thursday, it signed an agreement with the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (Saceos), under which it will work with the association to develop case studies as training materials for about 450 hospitality and tourism management students.

The students could also get mentorship and exemptions for professional Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition) certificates offered by Saceos after graduation.

Statistics from NYP show that each year, only 15 per cent of its work-ready hospitality and tourism management graduates, excluding those who go on to serve national service, enter the Mice industry. Most further their studies or start work in other sectors.

This article was first published on February 7, 2015.
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