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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Adult learners on the rise | The New Paper

Photo: Amelia Teng
"Polytechnics ramp up efforts to make courses more relevant for working students" summarizes Amelia Teng, The Straits Times.

Mr Lee Sheng Loong is a part-time Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) student studying infocomm and digital media.
While the declining birth rate has led to fewer full-time students at the five polytechnics during the day, the campuses are a hub of activity at night, thanks to adult learners.

The number of training places filled by these older students grew from 42,000 in 2012 to 77,000 last year, according to figures from the Ministry of Education (MOE). A participant can take more than one course.

An MOE spokesman said: "The expected decline in cohort sizes frees up resources for the post-secondary education institutions to ramp up their efforts in other ways, while at the same time working closely with external partners to meet industry demands."

In 2015, the latest year for which such figures are available, 24,251 full-time students entered the polys, compared with more than 26,000 in 2012.

Cohort sizes are projected to fall between 10 per cent and 15 per cent by 2025.

Although the polys will still have a critical mass of students, they are paying closer attention to the adult learning space.

They have relooked their offerings to make them more relevant to the jobs and skills needed in today's economy, said poly officials.

The polys are also ramping up courses in in-demand areas such as data science, business intelligence and cyber security.

In total, some 1,800 courses catered to working adults were offered across the five polys last year, compared with about 1,000 in 2012.

These programmes - which include the Earn and Learn courses, specialist and advanced diplomas and shorter modules - are funded by MOE and SkillsFuture Singapore.

Mr Albert Toh, director of the Academy for Continuing Education at Republic Polytechnic (RP), said: "From focusing primarily on pre-employment education, we are moving to a mix of pre-employment and continuing education and training.

"Beyond full qualifications such as a diploma or a degree, the call today is for workers to upskill, or learn a second skill."

Mr Suresh Punjabi, director of the Professional and Adult Continuing Education Academy at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), said some 1,500 students attend night classes every week.

Source: The New Paper