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Swiss institute helping with vocational education and training

Nanyang Polytechnic staff brainstorming during the train-the trainer session between Nanyang Polytechnic and SFIVET on how to implement workplace training to support industries and advise companies through the Earn and Learn Programme.

THE Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), the expert organisation for vocational education and training in Switzerland, is helping to train Singaporeans in the field, who will assume the role of trainers here as Singapore pushes ahead with skills training.

Singapore's Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), which has an Academy of Lifelong Learning and Skills, has taken the lead in collaborating with SFIVET. The Swiss institute's expert was in Singapore earlier in July to work with the NYP staff for a week- long programme.

NYP says that it understands the benefits of structured workplace training and has established a three-level system, training about 130 of its staff to support the industry in terms of methodology to conduct effective and structured workplace training and systems. The 130 staff will support NYP's intent to help the industries and they have been approaching and advising companies in implementing workplace training, both via internship and the Earn and Learn Programme.

Says NYP: "In view of the rising demand from the different SkillsFuture initiatives, there is a need for us to learn from the gurus in this field. This includes aspects on how to help the companies in propagating the structured workplace training and on-the-job training at all levels, which will improve productivity and innovation. We also understand that above and beyond just helping the company in implementing workplace training, we need to train their trainers so that this can have a multiplier effect."

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Jeanne Liew, principal & CEO of NYP, says: "NYP aims to be the model for workplace excellence and training to better support our students here to be work and future ready. To do this, we look to the Swiss for their excellence in this area. SFIVET is the expert organisation for vocational education and training in Switzerland, so collaborating with them is a natural progression. SFIVET goes beyond vocational education and training, and conducts research into the area. NYP could benefit from contextualising these insights."

SFIVET and NYP will be organising masterclasses for the industries to level up workplace training and planning capabilities as part of their mandate to support the local companies. This will be helpful to companies in levelling up productivity and competency via a systematic and analytical workflow designed by SFIVET.

The Swiss model is also a good fit because of its current dual track education system that provides on-the- job learning opportunities for their students and skilled personnel for the industries. Students will gain practical experience and skills that are needed by the industries. Systematic workplace training ensures that students are well trained for jobs.

Says Ms Liew: "This bears some similarity to what we want to achieve with the SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programme. This collaboration will also give us access to assess the model in action across more sectors."

"NYP is collaborating with SFIVET to tap their knowledge and expertise to strengthen our vocational education capabilities. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to bring us a step closer towards becoming a model for vocational education and training," she adds.

NYP's continued focus on skills mastery and established industry links is rooted in its history. Its predecessor institutions of the late 1970s and early 1980s were joint training institutions set up by the Economic Development Board.

The polytechnic's collaboration with SFIVET broadens its range of initiatives to strengthen its own vocational education. Some of the other initiatives include Enhanced Internship Programmes and SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programmes. Overall, these initiatives are part of NYP's larger goal of supporting local industries. NYP does so by ensuring graduates are equipped with necessary experience and skills for the job.

"NYP also recognises the importance of enhancing our staff's capability to help local companies implement workplace training, as many SMEs will benefit from having the resources to do so. Our partnership with SFIVET would enhance our knowledge of teaching adult learners and our technical expertise related to workplace training. NYP can then better support our local companies by assisting them in implementing workplace training systems, which can improve performance and productivity," says Ms Liew.

SFIVET's strengths include its knowledge of effective vocational training and insights into vocational education. NYP is tapping their expertise to enhance Singapore's work place training system and methodology. Structured work place training can continue to grow in Singapore as most companies prefer to hire staff and leveraging their new hired expertise immediately instead of developing their skills over time with skills which are deeper and more contextual to the company, she adds.

"However, it is worth mentioning that as Singapore's culture and local practices differ from those of Switzerland, the workplace training system should be contextualised to suit local demands," says Ms Liew.