JC isn’t the only option. There are polytechnics too

By May 3, 2017Current

TL;DR – All roads lead to Rome.

There was a time when the only way for you to make it to a local university is by going to a junior college (JC). That time is long gone.

Today, if you go to a polytechnic, you still have a good chance of making into a local university. In 2015, 34% of the intake of local universities were from polytechnics. That means that about 25% of  the polytechnic students that graduated in 2015 made it to a local university.

More polytechnics graduates making it to better courses

And it’s not just that more polytechnic students are making to universities. More polytechnic students are making it into the very competitive courses too. In 2011, polytechnic students made up a paltry 04.% to 0.5% of the cohort of medicine and law courses. In 2016, polytechnic students made up 2% of the cohorts of both courses.

More polytechnic students were also making it into accountancy courses of local universities. In 2011, only 127 made it into the accountancy courses of local universities. In 2016, that number almost doubled to 253. Similarly, NUS’ department of architecture at its school of design and environment had about 40 poly graduates in its intake last year, double the 20 or so five years ago.

Poly courses more responsive to needs of economy

The astute reader will point out that there’s still a good 75% of poly graduates who don’t make it to local universities. So what? Unlike an A-Level certificate, which is quite useless if it doesn’t get you to a university, a polytechnic diploma alone can get you quite a decent job. The median starting salary of a polytechnic graduate is $2,200. Not bad for someone in his early 20’s.

But that’s not all.

Polytechnic students get support to enter some of the growth sectors of Singapore’s economy. For instance, the five polytechnics in Singapore and the Singapore FinTech Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide greater support for students looking to enter the Fintech industry.

That MOU aims to prepare students to meet the demand for manpower in areas such as data analytics and cybersecurity. Following the signing of the MOU, students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic will soon be able to engage with payments experts from Visa and visit the Visa Innovation Lab.

From that programme, students will be assigned mentors who are Visa’s employees. They can also attend modules related to FinTech and the payments industry at Visa’s Learning Centre. To round up what they’ve learnt, students will participate in a business case challenge.

And it’s not just FinTech. Data is seen as a new resource for Singapore to become a key player in the global digital economy. Consequently, data analytics will be a skill in high demand. Now students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic will be introduced visual analytics platform Tableau. This will help them develop the skill by getting hands-on with data analytics and playing with visualisations.

Preparing for tomorrow’s economy

As Minister Chan Chun Sing commented after his recent visit to Temasek Polytechnic:

“With the network that our Employment & Employability Institute and U Associate brings, we plan to accelerate the speed to market of training courses to equip our working people for tomorrow’s jobs.

Today Temasek Polytechnic School of Engineering demonstrated how augmented reality, virtual reality and other technology can deliver learning experiences that were previously impossible. With imagination, we can explore new pedagogy of teaching and enabling our working people.”

It looks like Polytechnics are set to be more attractive, and offer greater value to their students!

Basket! I missed all these opportunities?! Grr…

If you are past the polytechnic-going age, and are lamenting that you have lost the opportunities to learn these exciting things and get into those vibrant industries with promising growth opportunities , do not panic.

This is 2017. There is still hope. Things are different now.

Lifelong learning is a thing now.

Each of the polytechnics have their own continuing education and training centres. These centres offer bite-sized, skills-based modular courses, aimed at working adults. These modular courses can be stacked up up towards qualifications such as diplomas and degrees.

Given that these modular courses would likely be crafted based on what the economy needs of the present and future, they would likely help participants prepare for jobs of tomorrow. Hopefully, more Singaporeans, even if they think they are in comfortable jobs today, will go for some of those courses to be prepared for jobs of tomorrow.


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Jake Koh

Author Jake Koh

Recovering sushi addict, I'm a man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.

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