As Singapore continues to innovate and create new value to meet the challenges of Industry 4.0, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) too has been evolving. To better prepare our youth for the new economy and build their resilience in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, we fine-tuned our curricula, broadened their exposure and enhanced the learning experience. At the same time, we drove innovation and digitalisation, and supported Singapore’s workforce and enterprises in embracing change through continuing education programmes and collaborations. All this and more were encapsulated in an eventful year. We are pleased to present our annual report which highlights our key milestones for the financial year that ended on 31 March 2019.
To achieve our long-term vision, we remain anchored to our five strategic thrusts: (i) shaping a future-ready campus, (ii) enabling multiple peaks for success, (iii) encouraging learning beyond the classroom, (iv) becoming a poly for all ages and (v) exploring sustainability opportunities. Guided by these priorities, we implemented several initiatives during the year.
On the academic front, we identified seven key competencies which we hope every NP student will have when they graduate. The aim is to future-proof our students and instil in them the confidence to embrace the challenges ahead. To that end, we mapped out plans to equip our students with both domain and interdisciplinary skills and knowledge, as well as digital competence. We also seek to nurture an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset, build their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, hone their abilities to communicate and collaborate, and imbue them with the cross-cultural sensitivity they need to thrive in a globalised workplace. Underpinning these key competencies is a set of core values that will shape their character and drive their own continued development, long after they receive their diplomas. We will incorporate the key competencies into our curriculum design, delivery and assessment, as well as in their co-curricular learning experiences.
In tandem with this, our School of Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) revamped its curriculum with the intent to develop students into agile and self-directed learners to prepare them for the future workplace. Students will hone their skills and knowledge in communication, innovation and world issues through IS modules. A key highlight of the revised curriculum is an interdisciplinary project which will bring together students from diverse diplomas to collaborate and explore solutions for real-world problems which are becoming increasingly complex and require multidisciplinary skills to tackle.
To add to the unique learning opportunities beyond the classroom, we strengthened our collaborations and forged new partnerships to provide exposure that prepares our students for global industries and international environments. For example, we signed an Agreement with the Singapore Economic Development Board to run the Innovators Academy under the ambit of the Global Innovation Alliance, which provides our students the opportunity to participate in entrepreneurial internships across 10 cities in 8 countries.
Among our new partners is WeWork, a provider of shared workspaces for technology startups. Under our MOU with its subsidiary WeWork Labs, our students enjoy access to regional internships that will give them a more global perspective.
Through our Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP), several of our students were inspired to start their own ventures. One such budding entrepreneur is Business Studies student Cindy Lim, who launched a business that brings Vietnamese fashion to Singapore while interning with a startup in Ho Chi Minh. Our School of InfoComm Technology students, Haiqel B Hanaffi and Yong Kai En, also set up an e-commerce business to allow users to trade IT products, during their internships in Jakarta and Silicon Valley respectively. Their accomplishments were an affirmation of our efforts to create an ecosystem that nurtures students’ entrepreneurial ambition, one of the multiple paths of success they may pursue at NP.
As an extension of our work in this regard, we partnered the National University of Singapore (NUS) to give enterprising polytechnic graduates the opportunity to port their entrepreneurial pursuits from polytechnic to university. Through the collaboration, the five polytechnics will nominate up to 200 graduates who have displayed strong entrepreneurial abilities to be considered for admission to NUS via its Discretionary Admissions Scheme. This initiative paved the way for polytechnic graduates to continue to develop their skills and work on their startups in NUS.
In line with the national approach to offer broader exposure to encourage versatility and increase future career options for our students, we refreshed our course offerings, in consultation and collaboration with industry partners.
In April 2018, we launched the Common Entry Programmes (CEP) for our business, engineering and information and digital technology courses for the 2019 intake. These programmes prepare students with the essentials through foundational modules during their first year or semester. Concurrently, they provide exposure to a wide range of disciplines within their respective domains. Through these programmes, students are given the time and space to discover their strengths and find their passion before they commit to choosing a specialisation.
To cater to industry demands in the early childhood sector, NP collaborated with the newly established National Institute of Early Childhood Development to develop a new diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education.
In a world of fast-paced changes and technological disruptions, lifelong upgrading is the new normal. As an Institute of Higher Learning, we have a role to play in helping Singaporeans of all ages stay relevant. To support lifelong learning, our CET Academy, which drives continuing education and training, has set a goal to increase training hours to 2 million hours by 2022. Over the past year, we attained a 22% year-on-year increase in training hours, and a 109% increase in the number of training places.
Among the milestone projects initiated last year was the successful launch of our Artificial Intelligence in Finance online course, a first in Singapore. Developed by the industry for the industry, the course was borne out of a partnership with London-based Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship.
Another noteworthy project was our partnership with the Singapore Prisons School to offer prison inmates the Diploma in Business Practice (International Supply Chain Management), the first diploma course endorsed by the Prisons School. The diploma will open doors for graduates to seek employment in the logistics sector after their incarceration.
In September, NP also hosted 600 educators, trainers, industry partners and change makers at the inaugural CET Masters Series for Educators. The one-day conference sought to enable educational institutions to build capabilities in driving lifelong learning and to equip individuals with emerging skills to become better educators.
NP also lent support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to grow and develop their talent pool. More than 300 SMEs benefited from NP’s new SMExchange platform, which enables them to upskill their employees through our CET programmes and recruit talent from our SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programmes (ELP).
Under the ELP, we rolled out a new initiative called Startup Talent Factory (STF) to give fresh polytechnic graduates a leg up. The STF enables them to pick up entrepreneurial skills by working at local startups, which in turn enjoy access to a ready talent pool. In its first run, the STF placed 24 graduates across 20 startups.
Our 2018 graduates were also the first to receive a parting e-gift, a curated collection of micro- learning courses called Beginnings, at their graduation ceremony. The gift, which introduced them to bite-sized online learning, focusing on emerging skills such as data analytics and design thinking, underscored the need to keep learning, even after graduating from the polytechnic.
To encourage process innovation, boost productivity and improve the quality of work life for our staff, we started a ‘Work Smarter’ movement in NP. We encouraged staff to review the most frustrating and routine parts of their work and find ways to redesign or automate them, or go digital. This successful innovation and productivity campaign gave rise to 161 projects within a year, from e-payments at our canteens to data analytics and visualisation to enhance decision making. Our concerted push to leverage technology to go paperless, cashless and counter-free saved us more than 4,000 man-days and close to $420,000. The campaign was another step towards being a Smart Nation and was also aligned with public sector transformation outcomes of building a lean, agile and digitally-enabled workforce that leads in service delivery and innovation.
Beyond our campus, we helped SMEs embrace digitalisation across payroll, restaurant automation and industrial goods procurement. In addition, we contributed to their digital empowerment through the joint polytechnic incubator, Pollinate, which has at least three startups providing goods and services that help SMEs go digital. In the past year, about 600 SMEs reaped the benefits of these offerings.
Our students and graduates did us proud last year, garnering numerous accolades, across disciplines, both locally and internationally. For example, our students triumphed at the WorldSkills ASEAN Competition, picking up Singapore’s first win in the Mechatronics category and the second prize in the new Internet-of-Things category. Our students also won the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart National Award 2018 and the Halogen Foundation’s National Young Leader Award.
Our alumni too have made waves in their chosen fields. Alumnus Yeo Siew Hua, for instance, bagged three awards, including the top prize, at the 2018 Locarno International Film Festival. The Singaporean film director also won awards at the El Gouna Film Festival, QCinema International Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival.
At the corporate level, we gained recognition for our efforts to drive service delivery, innovation and best practices at the Public Sector Transformation Awards in 2018. We won the Best Practice Award for Inter-Agency Collaboration for spearheading the PolyFintech100 initiative, which is helping to augment the financial technology talent pool.
On the sustainability front, we are on track to achieving our goals. Since 2013, we have saved over 34,500 cubic metres of water and 3.58 GWh of energy. We collect condensate from our air-conditioning systems and use the water to irrigate our gardens. Seven of our offices have also attained Eco-office certification and we are continuing to expand that list. In 2018, we increased our green softscape diversity by 15%, by creating more vertical green walls and converting roads into gardens. We also continued with our food waste co-digestion project with the National Environment Agency, which collected and recycled 34 tons of food waste from our canteens last year.
Building on a solid foundation, we will seek new and innovative ways to deliver on our graduate outcomes. By appreciating realities and anticipating the future, we will prepare our students for life, and help them become passionate self-directed learners, big-hearted people and global-smart professionals who have the ability and confidence to embrace and effect change. This benefits them, strengthens the talent pipeline and advances broader national interests.
We thank all our stakeholders – staff, students, parents, alumni, advisory committees, industry and community partners, as well as our parent Ministry – for their support. We would also like to express our appreciation for the thought leadership provided by our fellow Council members, and especially thank BG Goh Si Hou who stepped down in June 2018 and Mr Richard Lee, Professor Francis Koh, Mr Joe Sim, Mr Ow Fook Chuen and Mrs Loke-Yeo Teck Yong who stepped down at the end of the current Council term in March 2019, for their invaluable contributions. At the same time, we extend a warm welcome to COL Aaron Beng who joined our Council in July 2018. Together, we will work towards a better NP in 2019 and beyond.
Tang Kin FeiChairman