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Getting top marks
THE Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has been working over the years to become a leader in career and technical education to meet the needs of employees in a fast-changing labour landscape. Since it was restructured as a post-secondary institution in 1992, ITE has had to focus on offering skills education that was market-relevant and customer-focused.
At the heart of ITE's philosophy to education is its "Authentic Learning" approach, where learning occurs in simulated work places. According to ITE, this helps students to perform better during internships and, eventually, in their chosen careers. Some of these experiences include an Aerospace Hub featuring a Boeing 737 and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality systems to simulate real-world industry environments, a fully-functioning sound stage for movie productions, student-run cafes and restaurants, and simulation labs in healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and cybersecurity.
To support its forward-looking mission, ITE adopted the Business Excellence (BE) framework some 20 years ago.
The organisation attained the Singapore Quality Class certification in 1999 and was the first education institution to receive the Singapore Quality Award in 2005. This was followed by its first Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation in 2011, which it won again this year.
"The BE framework provided an excellent benchmark for us to align our strategy, people, processes and outcomes. Not only did it emphasise the attributes of excellent organisations that we could model on, it also introduced us to the local and global community of BE evangelists whom we could learn from. We also found like-minded organisations which had won the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award in the US, and formed good relationships for benchmarking, learning and inspiration," said Sabrina Loi, deputy CEO (Corporate), ITE.
COMMITMENT TO TRANSFORMING
ITE has benefited from the BE initiative in three key areas. The first, and most visible, is the transformation in the institute's campus and learning approach. From 10 small satellite campuses, ITE is made up today of three large colleges. These colleges boast a much-wider range of applied learning programmes, with authentic learning facilities and the latest technology. Students also have opportunities for workplace internships and global exposure.
The second significant change is related to the organisation's people, who have worked to stay relevant in a changing education landscape. "Our staff have continually embraced industry changes and transformation. They have kept themselves current to both industry and students' needs, serving with passion, care and commitment for students' success. They are the real champions of our BE journey," noted Ms Loi.
The third area involves the strengthening of ITE's training ecosystem with its co-training partners and industry; collaborations which are key to the organisation remaining in touch with changes on the ground. "We cannot have an effective career and skills education system without that close nexus with our industry stakeholders. They give us different lenses to ensure that we remain nimble, relevant and responsive," explained Ms Loi.
ITE's transformation in the last two decades has led to it being recognised as a leading player in education globally. The institute has provided consultancy and turnkey projects in 27 countries, and has also hosted more than 11,000 visitors from 134 countries in the past five years. ITE has also chalked up outstanding benchmarked results globally in student and employer satisfaction.
ITE's achievements has seen it honoured with various accolades; the latest being the Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation. "The award boosts the morale and professional standing of the staff, accords recognition to the value provided by our partners and enhances the confidence in our customers. While this is a pinnacle award, excellence has no destination and does not represent one single peak. We will continue to look ahead at what's our next wave of change and peak of excellence while staying anchored in our purpose - to give our students and adult learners the best skills and value we can offer," said Low Khah Gek, CEO, ITE.
ITE is already looking to the future and will soon be starting the process of formulating its next five-year roadmap. Added Ms Low: "It is an opportune time to take stock of what we have achieved and examine anew our students' and adult learners' needs by understanding the technological developments in industry, the emerging job roles and skills demands as well as exploring various modes of effectively conducting the training."