In a world where the ever-changing economy makes it difficult for graduates to secure a dream job, many seek pathways to future-proof their careers. One new trajectory that can be considered is the work-study degree.
A work-study degree incorporates work experience into the curriculum, allowing students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world scenarios.
This year, the SMU School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) will collaborate with the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) to offer SMU’s first work-study degree in software engineering. The Bachelor of Science (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study programme aims to train a pipeline of talent with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving workplace.
The full-time, four-year undergraduate degree programme combines classroom learning with structured on-the-job training. It features a rigorous 52-week apprenticeship where students work in development teams under the mentorship of professional software engineers.
Here are four ways in which industry experience will enable students to be more marketable in the workforce and better equipped for the challenges of the new economy:
1. Address industry demand
According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the demand for software development professionals will rise by 22 per cent between 2020 and 2030.
A work-study degree helps meet the rising demand for computing talent by providing students with work-relevant skills and ensuring that they are better able to transit to the workplace. Computing degrees with a work-study component allow students to develop essential employability skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, while also gaining real-world experience in their chosen field.
“As the digitalisation of industries, economies and societies accelerate, we have seen strong interest from prospective students to study computing, as well as strong demand from industry and Singapore for computing talent,” notes Professor Pang Hwee Hwa, Dean of the School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS).
“In response, the School of Computing and Information Systems has increased our student intake over the years. We have launched and refreshed our education programmes in response to emerging technologies and market demands to stay relevant to the industry.” Additionally, these programmes may offer graduates a direct route to employment, often with the same company where they completed their placement.
2. Relevant skills for a digitally disrupted world
A work-study degree creates value by imparting skills required by the new digital economy. By integrating classroom learning with structured on-the-job training, students acquire real-world skills to succeed in their chosen field.
Specifically, work-study programmes allow students to master theoretical knowledge and put it into practice in a workplace setting.
“The BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree aims to nurture undergraduates with a strong foundation in software engineering design and principles, competent programming skills and real-life, hands-on industry experience,” shares Professor Pang.
“Collaboration with industry partners is part of our overall effort to nurture future-ready graduates who can create value to business and society with industry-relevant skills.”
3. Building a digital future
Today, the public sector increasingly relies on digital tools and technologies to deliver services and information to the community. At the same time, universities are designing ways to better engage with their students and provide relevant skills development opportunities.
Work-study degrees offer a unique opportunity for these entities to come together and design and deliver curricula that can help accelerate digital transformation in the public sector.
“We are delighted to have GovTech as our first anchor partner to deliver the new degree in software engineering,” says Professor Pang.
“We are confident this collaboration will enable our students to gain invaluable experience in public sector digital transformation.”
4. Next-level immersion
A work-study degree could be pivotal in helping future software engineers grasp new trends and employ best practices. For example, it can offer hands-on experience with burgeoning software development tools and methodologies. Such programmes can also empower students to build a professional network of contacts who can provide valuable advice and support, even before graduating.
In particular, the year-long apprenticeship component of the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree offers a deep understanding of current trends and best practices in software engineering.
By alternating between work and campus learning, students gain practical experience while also receiving instruction from some of the top engineers in the field. Programmes like this provide an immersive learning experience that is second to none.
5. Holistic skillset development
Besides the interactive pedagogy for which SMU is renowned, the programme’s credit-bearing placements will allow students to deepen both technical and soft skills, provide exposure to organisational work culture, and open up career pathways with deep industry knowledge.
Students will be equipped with domain know-how, as well as competencies like teamwork and communication to thrive in software engineering roles.
Ultimately, a work-study degree is a great way to gain an edge in the competitive job market. Allowing students to put their theory into practice in an actual work environment helps them become more job-ready, while bridging the gap between knowledge and practical application.
The new Bachelor of Science (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree will be offered from Academic Year 2022-2023 (which begins in August 2022).
For more information, visit scis.smu.edu.sg/bsc-software-engineering