DEAC: Singapore’s Bold 30-year Plan for Future Workforce

September 1, 20228:27 pm1438 views
DEAC: Singapore’s Bold 30-year Plan for Future Workforce
image source: Reuters via Nikkei Asia

Singapore’s Design Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) today released its first term report announcing a bold 30-year vision to develop the next generation of creative thinkers, problem solvers, and a global, resilient workforce using design to help Singapore thrive in the future economy. 

Launched in 2020 by DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and appointed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as the first-ever national platform for design education thought and practice leadership, the tripartite DEAC comprises leaders from Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), the design industry and non-design sector, as well as policymakers from the government agencies. 

As Singapore progresses from an industrial economy to an innovation economy, the role of design has grown to tackle multifaceted challenges, navigate ambiguity, and foster effective problem solving. Following its first two-year term, the DEAC has outlined three key recommendations, comprising a Point-of-Vision centered around six pillars, for 2050.

To realize the 2050 vision, the DEAC will continue to champion the recommendations and work closely with a wide group of stakeholders to shape a globally recognised design education unique to Singapore and bring design education and the industry closer together. 

Concurrently, the committee developed 11 design ideas during its first term to amalgamate design education and the creative industry. Eight are currently being developed into prototypes as proof of concepts. These include collaborations with students from polytechnics, universities, and industry partners like DP Architects, Ideactio, KR&D, Phillips Singapore, STUCK Design, Tribal Worldwide Singapore, and many more. Among the eight prototypes are: 

Cross-IHL Learning Bootcamps

Design Leadership Challenge 2022 Beyond existing efforts to organize events and programmes jointly, this project brought together 38 students and 15 faculty members from four IHLs, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic to work in cross institution teams to develop entrepreneurial ideas that address health and wellness issues for youths. The five-day camp held in June 2022 was organized in partnership with Ideactio, a strategic design consultancy, and *SCAPE, a non-profit organization that supports youth talent and leadership development.

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Seamless Career Pathway 

Since April 2022, three design students from Nanyang Polytechnic have been working in the advertising agency as part of their final-year programme. In this first phase, the students spend six months on a hybrid internship where they take on client projects, work on their final-year project under the mentorship of practitioners in the agency and attend classes at the polytechnic. The students have been involved in various projects for clients, such as iShopChangi and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Chaired by Mr Low Cheaw Hwei, the Global Practice Lead for Product & Spatial Design who is also the Head of Philips Experience Design and Government & Public Affairs for ASEAN Pacific, the DEAC hopes to steer Singapore to develop skill sets critical to our future economy through design education, advocacy and experimentation across education and industry. The committee is focused on two key tasks:

“Design plays a fundamental role in how we tackle increasingly complex challenges in a highly globalized world. There is a crucial need for us to equip our general workforce with skills rooted in design to build resilience and thrive in our future economy. To that end, the DEAC has reimagined design education and developed a Point-of-Vision that encapsulates our aspirations to develop a robust generation that can accelerate the pace of innovation in the world.” 

– Mr Low Cheaw Hwei, Chairman of DEAC

During DEAC’s second term over the next two years, the committee will expand its engagement to include non-design trade, business associations, parents, and students, on top of its existing relationship with IHLs, the design industry and the government. To ensure Singapore is in tune with global trends, the committee will work with overseas experts in design education and continue to develop the Point-of-Vision – which will become a strategic framework to guide the transformation of design education in Singapore.

“As Singapore becomes an innovation-driven economy, attributes such as creativity and design thinking will grow in importance and demand. Across sectors, whether manufacturing, information & communications or retail, both the skills and principles of design will enable companies to innovate, differentiate their offerings, and stay ahead of the competition. MTI thus welcomes the DEAC’s timely recommendations, which set the direction for design education in the years to come.” 

– Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

“The DEAC’s recommendations will help enhance design education in Singapore, by strengthening engagements and collaborations between industry and the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). These closer partnerships support the IHLs’ ongoing efforts to ensure the continued industry-relevance of their programmes, provide students with multidisciplinary exposure and overall better enable our graduates to seize opportunities in the future economy.” 

– Ms Melissa Khoo, Deputy Secretary (Higher Education and Skills) Ministry of Education

“The Design Education Advisory Committee brings together brilliant minds from a multitude of sectors working towards the same vision that DesignSingapore shares – to infuse design as a national skillset into our youths and create a world-class design education landscape. With so much talent serving on the Committee guided by a North Star, I am confident that we will make our Point-of-Vision a reality.” 

– Ms Dawn Lim, Executive Director Design of Singapore Council

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