WSDeg offered by SIT provides learning platform for upskilling
“I believe in lifelong learning and one should never stop learning.” – Syamim Bin Selamat, Principal Assistant Engineer, Land Transport Authority, Singapore.
Learning is a lifelong journey that transcends multiple boundaries. As workers around the globe continue to grapple with the uncertainly brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is perhaps as opportune a time as any for them to consider upskilling themselves.
For Syamim Bin Selamat, a Principal Assistant Engineer with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA), the journey towards continuous learning began even before COVID-19 struck. Driven by a desire to upgrade himself both personally and professionally, Syamim enrolled in a civil engineering degree course at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2018.
SIT offers SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree (WSDeg) as part of a suite of work-study programmes that are designed to provide in-employment students in Singapore with deep skill sets and meaningful career opportunities. Companies who wish to help advance the careers of their employees in their relevant field of work or industry can also support or make nominations, as was the case with LTA’s Syamim.
He explained, “Previously, I had expressed interest to my supervisor, Dr Kelvin Goh, about getting a degree. He then nominated me for the Engineering Undergraduate Study Award.”
With an emphasis on applied learning, SIT regularly engages industry guest lecturers, such as LTA’s Dr Goh, to ensure the institution’s relevancy to the industry, and to allow the guest lecturers to share their industry experience with students.
“Both my classmates and I have received a lot of help from Dr Goh,” Syamim continued. “Whenever we have queries and doubts, we are able to approach him and he is always ready to clarify our doubts.”
At LTA, where he has worked for eight years, Syamim’s job experience centered largely on road projects, which called on his knowledge in transportation engineering. With the SIT degree programme he is currently attending, modules such as geotechnical engineering, concrete and steel design, structural analysis, environmental engineering and hydraulics have given Syamim a deeper set of knowledge and skills where civil engineering is concerned.
“Civil engineering projects are very complex and include a mix of more than one element,” he explained. “By learning more, I am equipped with the knowledge to analyse the problems that I might encounter for future projects.”
Because of the nature of his work, it was also a requirement for Syamim to liaise closely with colleagues from other departments within LTA. Besides allowing him to better understand the specific nature of his colleagues’ respective specialisations, Syamim believes that that his on-going education is also helping to improve his communications skills.
“Having attended communication-related modules in SIT, it would also help me in communicating better with my colleagues and project stakeholders,” he added.
For working adults, adjustment to university life can be a tough proposition, particularly if there is a sizable gap from the last time they were in school or exposed to certain curriculum. To help students cope better and transit quicker, SIT offers preparatory adaptive online courses that help students such as Syamim refresh their knowledge on fundamental concepts and techniques in solving subject-related problems.
Another common problem faced by working adult students is the inability to assimilate to campus life, due to the age difference between themselves and younger schoolmates who have just completed polytechnic studies or national service duties in Singapore.
Thankfully for Syamim, the conducive environment provided by SIT meant he was quickly able to adjust and fit into his new environment. “Although most of my course mates are younger, we are able to get along well. We form study groups and help one another.
“I am able to help clarify their doubts on certain concepts stemming from the working knowledge that I possess. By sharing and learning together, we complement one another, and we also work hard as a group, and individually, to prepare for exams, quizzes and submission of assignments.
With his SIT course set to be completed in August 2021, Syamim is hopeful of transferring the knowledge that he has gained into practical use when he returns to LTA. This, he hopes, will increase his chances of climbing the corporate ladder and enhance his career progression within LTA, even as his learning journey continues.
Encouraging more working Singaporeans to step forward to upskill themselves, Syamim concluded, “I believe in lifelong learning and one should never stop learning. Personally, I feel that there is so much to learn in life and to be successful, you should not limit your understanding. The added knowledge you possess might help you stand out from the crowd, be more confident, and make yourself relevant in the industry you work in.”
WSDeg helps LTA to develop talent and raise organisational productivity
How are employers in Singapore benefitting from WSDeg, as their workforce continue to gain valuable skills?
An LTA spokesperson said, “As an employer, we benefit from the WSDeg when our staff return to the organisation equipped with knowledge they have acquired from their study. They can then start applying what they have learnt to their areas of work.
“The structured 8-month attachment back with the organisation helps to reinforce the concepts that they learnt in their study through actual application.”
LTA also found that staff who are undergojng the WSDeg programme have a better grasp of theoretical concepts and skills in their relevant fields of work. This helps them better understand the rationale behind the decisions made at work, and also paves the way for the potential application of new perspectives in their projects.
Upon graduation, staff are typically deployed back to the same department they used to be from. This, explained LTA, enables staff to effectively apply the knowledge and skills they have picked up during their studies, although they may also choose to explore other roles within the organisation for their career development at a future stage.
Encouraging more organisations to participate in the WSDeg programme, the LTA spokesperson concluded, “Besides reaping better productivity for the organisation in the long run, WSDeg also provides adequate platforms and opportunities for staff to upgrade and upskill themselves, which contributes to a positive and continuous learning culture in the organisation.”