Issue 125 | Apr-Jun 2021

Newer Heights To Scale

Professor Susanna Leong (Law ’89), NUS Vice Provost (Masters’ Programmes & Lifelong Education) and Dean (School of Continuing & Lifelong Education – NUS SCALE), discusses the University’s evolving approach to Lifelong Learning.

Prof Susanna Leong believes that Lifelong Learning should be an integral part of education.
The future may be mistier, yet it presents new opportunities for growth. There is no telling when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, but we are certain that it has moved us to embrace a “new normal”. Last year, we saw radical governmental policies, emerging expectations around remote working, accelerated technological adoption and the unusual consolidation of businesses within and across industries. Quite evidently, the gap between the conventional practices of yesterday and requirements of tomorrow is widening at warp speed. We must thus seize new possible opportunities for growth.

Staying ahead of the game will involve new priorities and areas of focus. Organisations find themselves operating in an environment that is in a constant flux. Traditional business models are disrupted, and often superseded by emerging technological solutions. Teams therefore need to constantly innovate and create differentiating value, and this can be done by sharpening and sustaining competitive advantages. 

The only sustainable advantage is to learn faster than your competitors and stay ahead of the competition. To do new things, and create value in response to constant shifts, we will need to be highly adaptive and quick-witted. Embracing agile set-ups, nurturing a strong culture of learning, and building the fitness for change will help us to remain nimble and competitive. We must be open to stepping out of our comfort zones, engage in a process of learning and unlearning, and be prepared to become a novice many times over, throughout our professional careers.

NUS’ commitment to Lifelong Learning support for our alumni and our wider communities is firm. Accelerated investment in the upskilling and reskilling of workers could add at least $6.5 trillion to global GDP, create 5.3 million (net) new jobs by 2030 and help develop more inclusive and sustainable economies worldwide. These are the key findings from a January 2021 World Economic Forum report. At NUS, we too recognise that, in certain disciplines, one’s skills and knowledge have a much shorter shelf life today. A NUS education may begin with a first formal degree, but it does not end there. We are committed to ensuring that our graduates remain future-ready and an integral part of this involves supporting our alumni through Continuous Education and Training (CET) initiatives throughout their careers.

In June 2016, SCALE was established, as a formal commitment of the University to make CET an integral part of our education. NUS SCALE draws on the multidisciplinary expertise of all 16 of our Schools/Faculties and SCALE, and collaborates closely with the industries and government agencies such as SSG, IMDA and WSG in offering high-quality full qualification programmes and short courses for working adults (our alumni and the general public) in Singapore and beyond. 

Responding with speed and innovation. The University has been strategically proactive in workforce upskilling and reskilling. From introducing innovative multidisciplinary education to modernising online learning andragogy, we seek to offer our learners a high value-adding and engaging learning experience. 

As you may be aware, the University has also put in place, very quickly, various initiatives to support our graduating cohorts, alumni and the workforce, such as the NUS Resilience and Growth (R&G) and the SGUnited Skills Programme, during this difficult time. 

Ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness. We are also constantly mindful that we make learning possible for busy working adults. Other than offering classes in the evenings and weekends, we are offering Executive and Graduate Certificates for learners who would like to learn in a bite-sized, flexible manner, but may wish to stack their credentials into a postgraduate certificate. For learners who are looking at acquiring industry-relevant skills for immediate application to their jobs, they could explore NUS Professional Certificate programmes. These certificate programmes, developed by NUS faculties, span in-demand areas such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Marketing and many more. 

Expanding NUS CET offerings to our wider communities. Working professionals who are motivated to earn their first undergraduate degree at NUS can now pursue their dream through the Advance@NUS programme, which prioritises career experiences in selecting applicants. For mid-career professionals, managers and executives who are looking to change industries, our Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) cater to this group, helping them to acquire the new skills needed to facilitate a career switch into sectors such as Nursing and Digital Sales.

Lifelong Learning commitment to you, 20 years and beyond. We are formulating more offerings for our alumni and envisioning them to lead to a bigger and more exciting realm of learning experiences. We want to partner you in shaping these initiatives, so they best suit your learning needs and aspirations. We will be reaching out soon to hear your views. 

For more information about NUS’ various CET initiatives, visit
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