New dad goes for a de­gree un­der work-study scheme

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Yuen Sin

Af­ter toy­ing with the idea for a few years, project co­or­di­na­tor Justin Kang, 34, de­cided to go back to school to se­cure a de­gree.

But with his first child born three months ago, go­ing for night classes was out of the ques­tion. The elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing di­ploma holder also could not af­ford to take a break from work.

This month, he en­rolled at the Sin­ga­pore In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (SIT) as a civil en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent un­der the Skill­sFu­ture Work-Study De­gree Pro­grammes.

Thanks to a part­ner­ship be­tween SIT and civil in­fra­struc­ture com­pany Sam­woh Cor­po­ra­tion, he will get time off from work to at­tend classes on Mon­day and Wed­nes­day every week. He will also work from home be­fore classes, which start at noon, and spend the rest of the week at work.

Mr Kang is cur­rently over­see­ing in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance projects at Changi Air­port. He will not have to take leave for the days spent at SIT dur­ing the four-year pro­gramme, and his salary and ca­reer will not be af­fected. His com­pany will pay for three-quar­ters of his tu- ition fees of about $10,000 a year. In ex­change, he will serve an 18-month bond af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

Mr Daniel Tan, a se­nior man­ager of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Sam­woh, said the lo­cal firm, which was in­cor­po­rated in 1975, is keen to send more staff for the work-study scheme or take in more ap­pren­tices un­der it, which can help build up the firm’s tal­ent pool.

He said: “There is a per­cep­tion that civil en­gi­neer­ing is tough work, and good en­gi­neers are hard to come by.”

Mr Kang said that he hopes to “un­der­stand the deeper sci­ence” be­hind op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures when it comes to his work in civil en­gi­neer­ing, in­clud­ing paving roads. “For ex­am­ple, why do you have to wait for as­phalt pre­mix to cool to a cer­tain tem­per­a­ture be­fore open­ing it to traf­fic? Know­ing the rea­son­ing be­hind things like this can help me to find a way to make cer­tain pro­cesses more ef­fi­cient,” he said.

Pro­fes­sor Ho Yew Kee, SIT’s as­so­ci­ate provost for Skill­sFu­ture and staff de­vel­op­ment, said SIT has re­ceived en­cour­ag­ing feed­back on the work-study scheme from stu­dents and em­ploy­ers.

“In a stiffer eco­nomic cli­mate, em­ploy­ers can take this op­por­tu­nity to up­skill, reskill and ‘deep-skill’ their work­force,” he said, adding: “These com­pa­nies will have early ac­cess to tal­ent and groom them.”

Sing­tel’s group chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer Aileen Tan said the Skill­sFu­ture scheme is a “win-win propo­si­tion”, giv­ing its 11 ap­pren­tices the chance to hone their skills in a real-world set­ting, while de­vel­op­ing a tal­ent pipe­line for the firm.

PHOTOS: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Sam­woh Cor­po­ra­tion project co­or­di­na­tor Justin Kang has en­rolled in SIT as a civil en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent un­der the Skill­sFu­ture Work-Study De­gree Pro­grammes. The elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing di­ploma holder gets time off from work to at­tend classes in the four-year pro­gramme.

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