Career tracks for workforce-ready Arts students

Prof Goh spoke on some of the new initiatives available for Arts students in preparation for their careers after graduation

Students from NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) will soon have another avenue to prepare for a career after graduation with a new initiative developed by the faculty.

The Future-ready Arts and Social Sciences Education 2.0 — FASS 2.0 in short —was introduced for the 2019 admission cohort. Currently enrolled students also have access to the FASS 2.0 pathways. This initiative responds to Industry 4.0, and will offer students industry-relevant training and experiences to complement their FASS education.

Students will be given a pathway to five different market sectors — Public Administration; Communications, Advertising and Media; Banking and Finance; Society, Community and Health; and Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Heritage. These sectors are among those that have historically employed significant numbers of FASS graduates.

“Each track consists of a curated list of FASS majors, complemented by a combination of modules. Our students will likely identify and pursue one of the tracks upon declaring their majors in their second year,” said Dean of FASS Professor Robbie Goh.

“While this programme is not compulsory, we anticipate it will be an attractive option for career-focused students.”

The programme has been well received by the faculty’s current students, as well as recent graduates. One notable comment was from FASS alumnus Mr Khoo Yi Feng who wrote to The Straits Times Forum, and said, “The transition from student to working adult is tough, and I am hopeful this shift will help this generation and future generations of FASS students.”

Mentorship and internship programmes

Together with the curated list of modules, students will also attend seminars and receive mentorship from industry professionals.

One component of FASS 2.0 is a new credit-bearing mentorship module, known as FASS Capstone Career Preparation, to be launched in the 2020/2021 academic year. “While the curated list of majors and modules impart disciplinary knowledge and hard skills, this mentorship module serves to impose coherence on a graduate’s training, linking it to the workplace,” explained Prof Goh.

Additionally, students will be required to embark on a track-specific internship. “This allows them to better appreciate the link between theoretical learning and practical application, and as a result gain valuable direct experience in the targeted industry,” said Prof Goh.

Internships are already an integral part of the FASS curriculum and some 42 per cent of the most recently graduated cohort took part in them.

Employers welcome the new initiative

FASS 2.0 was developed through consultation with internal stakeholders, industry partners and FASS alumni from a range of industries.

“We need to cherish an education in the humanities. It is ultimately learning about being human, and understanding our place in the universe,” said Mr Paul Tan, Deputy CEO at the National Arts Council and one of the industry advisors for the course.

“We can still keep these high-minded aspirations while appreciating FASS 2.0 as an important pathway to orientate graduates to the working world and the realities of industry and vocation in the Singapore. The industry seminars, mentorships and internships will offer, I’m sure, new networks and valuable windows to life after graduation.”

Fellow industry advisor Ms Dilys Boey, Partner and ASEAN People Advisory Leader at Ernst & Young Singapore, noted that many new entrants to the workforce may have multiple different careers in one lifetime. As such, FASS 2.0 must enable career-ready graduates who continually learn and have the agility to embrace new roles. 

“In the digital age, absolutely digital literacy is a must, and modules in all things digital including data analytics, AI, robotics or app development would be relevant,” she said.

“More graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are needed, yes. But digital-era leaders must also be connected, have a sense of cultural and intellectual curiosity, are hyper-collaborative, and are able to envision how technology enables better lives, better services, engagement and overall outcomes. All of which can be shaped in the course of inquiry and debate required through the years at FASS.”

FASS 2.0 is just a start. With continued industry collaborations, we are looking to develop more of such initiatives to better prepare students for the future.

FASS 2.0 builds on existing FASS initiatives, including the recently-launched Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) programme. The PPE programme is particularly suited to develop students’ critical, applied and strategic thinking skills through the different methodologies and approaches of the disciplines of Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics. Some 300 students applied in the past year, and 25 students have been accepted.

Other initiatives include the creation of a compulsory computational reasoning module to equip FASS students with computing skills, new double degree programmes, internships and mentorship programmes.

The faculty also aims to nurture students into global citizens. One way is through overseas enrichment and social incubator programmes.

In the upcoming academic year, FASS hopes to increase student participation in overseas programmes from 60 to 70 per cent to 90 per cent. FASS students also have the opportunity to co-develop social advancement and social entrepreneurship programmes in the recently launched FASS Social Incubator Programme.

“FASS 2.0 is just a start,” said Prof Goh. “With continued industry collaborations, we are looking to develop more of such initiatives to better prepare students for the future.”

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