Fewer taking on ITE traineeships despite success

today • Monday 17 March 2014
academics and practical training in
the polytechnics and ITEs.
In the meanwhile, Mr Aw said a
challenge lies in convincing parents
to let their children take up this option. They prefer to have their children study full-time NITEC programmes and enter higher education
rather than starting work at a young
age, he said.
Employers feel better monetary incentives could be provided — students
currently earn between S$1,000 and
S$1,400 a month — and that the stanMr Eric Yong (left), seen here with mentor Lim Weng Siang, worked
at Munich Automobiles under the ITE scheme. PHOTO: DON WONG
Fewer taking on ITE
traineeships despite
success stories
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SINGAPORE — Fascinated with cars since
he was a child, Institute of Technical
Education (ITE) student Eric Yong,
20, described his automotive technology traineeship as a dream come true.
Attached to automobile company
Munich Automobiles, he worked on
high-end BMW cars and was sent to
Malaysia for training.
Under the ITE traineeship scheme,
Mr Yong worked for three days and
returned to ITE to study for the rest
of the work week for two years — emulating the work-study system pervasive across European countries such
as Switzerland and Germany. The
Ministry of Education (MOE) visited
these countries last month to study
their systems.
He said: “You get to have irst-hand
experience and be hands-on during the
traineeship … school may not always
be able to provide such exposure”.
Nevertheless, Mr Yong’s case is an
exception rather than the norm in the
traineeship scheme, which provides
fresh secondary-school leavers with
skills training leading to nationallyrecognised ITE qualiications.
Employers under the traineeship
scheme have flagged high attrition
rate as an issue. Although Mr Yong
finished his programme last year,
three trainees who started alongside
him dropped out along the way.
The ITE did not respond by press
time on the attrition rate but the institute’s Deputy Chief Executive (Industry) Aw York Bin said the number of
students completing their traineeship
is “not as (high) as in their full-time
(NITEC) study programmes”.
Since the scheme started in 1992,
the number of traineeship programmes ofered has decreased from
60 to about 40, with some being phased
out as industry demand evolved. Student enrolment has also fallen — from
1,000 trainees annually about ive to
six years ago, to 600 now.
The ITE is currently awaiting the
MOE’s recommendations from its
review on how to better integrate
You get to
have irst-hand
and be handson during the
traineeship …
school may
not always
be able to
provide such
ITE student
Eric Yong
ding of skilled jobs should be raised to
attract and retain trainees.
“Blue-collar jobs where people need
to get their hands dirty do not seem so
attractive to youths,” said Munich Automobiles Sales Manager Robert Leal.
Ms Christina Kong, Senior Director (HR and Corporate Afairs) from
the JUMBO Group, agreed that more
could be done to promote the traineeship scheme as an alternative and for
young people to understand the importance of learning skills.
Mr Soetomo Said of Branded Life-
style Enterprises said he had to counsel his retail trainees to stay on. Some
face personal challenges or have issues with time management, he noted.
An ITE spokesperson said pupils
under the traineeship scheme are
typically those who wish to earn an
income while studying.
The ITE has since introduced an
orientation programme for trainees
to prepare them for the work environment and ofers career counselling to
match traineeship applicants to available courses.