ITE College East
Professional mentorships for Singapore students
Since 2014, Freshfields’ Singapore office, in partnership with ITE (Institute of Technical Education) College East, has mentored students to help them develop practical workplace skills.
Singapore’s ITE is public vocational education institution that provides pre-employment training to secondary school graduates, and continuing education and training to working adults.
ITE’s students tend to be from lower income families with less academic ability. In the race to secure good jobs and spaces in higher education, many lose out to their same-age peers from polytechnics and junior colleges, despite having strong technical skills. Presentation and communication skills are needed to help ITE students gain recognition in society and attain social mobility.
In each two-hour session, around 15 ITE students get practical insights from three or four Freshfields mentors on a range of topics, including commercial awareness, office protocol, communications and networking, and public speaking and presentation. There is usually a video and an open discussion, as well as an activity where the students will collaborate to present an idea or debate a topic.
The sessions encourage appropriate use of humour, eye contact and clear, confident delivery through a variety of role-playing exercises. Classes are kept small to ensure mentors get to know the students individually, and can tailor their experience. The Freshfields mentors meet before each session to brainstorm ideas, continuously updating session materials to ensure maximum relevance for students. Nevertheless, workshops on communication and presentation are aimed at helping students gain confidence and perform well during interviews for schools, jobs and scholarships.
Feedback from students has indeed been positive. ‘The sessions at Freshfields have helped me brush up on my presentation skills,’ says Sylvia, a nursing student at ITE College East. ‘I also learnt about the different items to take note of when doing a PowerPoint slide for presentation. What I’ve learnt will really help me a lot when I give presentations in ITE and when I further my studies after graduating.’
2020 marks the 10th cycle of partnership between ITE College East and Freshfields, observes Nur Syazwani Ahmad, Head of Student Talent Development, College Services Division. ‘As an educator, it has been fulfilling working alongside the Freshfields team as they are always sincere in helping our students. The majority come from lower income families so opportunities like the ones offered by Freshfields are hard to come by.
‘To date, more than 100 students have benefitted from the programme,’ Ms Ahmad continues. ‘The students enjoy the programme, especially the meaningful discussions with their Freshfields mentors on various real-life issues they may face in their future careers. ITE College East looks forward to many more years of partnership with Freshfields as we hope to bring positive impact to more students!’