SMU and NCS nurture software engineering talent with university’s first co-op SkillsFuture degree


SMU’s School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) and NCS Pte Ltd, a leading technology services company with operations in Asia-Pacific, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the baccalaureate of Science (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Diploma. The degree aims to build a talent pool with the knowledge and skills to meet the demand for software engineering talent.

The two parties also signed an agreement to establish the NCS Scholarship and NCS Awards to recognize outstanding SCIS students.

Prof. Pang Hwee Hwa, Dean of SCIS, and Mr. Howie Lau, Managing Partner, Business Development and Partnerships, NCS Pte Ltd, formalized the collaboration and donation during a signing ceremony at SMU on July 4, 2022 .

Professor Pang said, “SCIS has been steadily expanding its IT offerings and undergraduate admissions to help meet Singapore’s demand for ICT talent. We have, and continue to partner with like-minded agencies and businesses to bring practical relevance to our students’ learning journeys and to show prospective students the exciting journeys that await them when they earn a degree in computer science. The NCS Scholarship and Awards we are launching today, along with NCS’s partnership in our BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree, will further encourage our students to reach new heights of academic excellence and their will provide the opportunity to experience first-hand the exciting careers of NCS and the IT industry in general. We are delighted that NCS has chosen to partner with us, and I look forward to a successful and lasting partnership.

Mr. Howie Lau said, “At NCS, we are committed to creating an ideal place for talent to grow and thrive professionally. Our partnership with SMU on the University’s first SkillsFuture curriculum and skills program reflects our commitment to nurturing technology talent and building future-ready skills, providing opportunities for software engineering talent to be involved in exciting and impactful work at the NCS.

Collaboration in the skills of the Bachelor of Science (Software Engineering)Future work-study degree

NCS subject matter experts will be appointed to provide feedback on the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree, co-teach software engineering courses either as an SMU Adjunct Professor or as guest lecturers, and co-scoring and co-certifying a “Certificate of Achievement” to undergraduate students who have completed an apprenticeship with NCS.

Each apprenticeship will consist of a 10-52 week stint in a software engineering role, with the SMU student working in a software engineering team. NCS will appoint at least one practicing software engineer or someone of equal ability as a mentor for each apprentice. The mentor will, among other things, be responsible for the technical and professional development of the apprentice during the apprenticeship period and will organize regular feedback sessions to help the apprentice understand his performance on the job.

NCS Scholarship and NCS Awards

NCS will establish the NCS Scholarship and Awards at SCIS with the aim of motivating undergraduate students of the University to achieve academic excellence.

“We are delighted that NCS is supporting the NCS Scholarships and Awards at SCIS. The NCS scholarship and awards demonstrate the organization’s commitment to this partnership and its support for building a talent pool for the nation,” said Professor Pang.

The NCS scholarship will be awarded to outstanding third-year students enrolled in the work-study program; the NCS prizes will be awarded to the best SCIS students in the courses “Introduction to Programming”, “Digital Business Technologies and Transformation” and “Computational Thinking”.

About the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Alternance

Launched in March this year, the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree is SMU’s first work-study degree. It is a full-time, four-year undergraduate program that combines classroom learning with structured on-the-job training. It offers a rigorous 52-week apprenticeship where students work in development teams under the mentorship of professional software engineers. SCIS will welcome its first batch of 40 students from the 2022-2023 academic year (which begins in August 2022).

  • Strong industrial collaboration: The degree program is developed after extensive consultation with practicing software engineers in Singapore and will be updated regularly to adhere to market trends. Courses will be co-developed and co-taught by SCIS professors and practicing software engineers from our core partners. In addition to GovTech and NCS, SCIS is also looking to collaborate with other industry partners.
  • One year apprenticeship: Undergraduate students of the BSc (Software Engineering) SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree will undertake a one-year, credited apprenticeship after completing a series of 12 required courses covering essential software engineering skills. Courses are organized into three groups: Computer Fundamentals, Software Development, and Solution Management.

The apprenticeship aims to meet the demand of prospective students seeking an applied computer science degree with a much longer learning period than what a typical internship offers.

The apprenticeship will allow them to learn industry best practices from subject matter experts and give them a head start in their careers. Working in development teams, students will innovate software solutions under the mentorship of professional software engineers. They will be able to strengthen and expand their technical and soft skills through hands-on experience, familiarize themselves with the organizational work culture, and enhance their career opportunities through in-depth industry knowledge and a personal professional network.

  • Term-in/term-out model: At any given time, a student is either a full-time apprentice at work or a full-time student taking courses at SMU.
  • Co-design of the program with anchor partner companies: SCIS will work closely with a few flagship partner companies. In addition to hosting the bulk of the apprentices, the school will work with experienced software engineers from its partners to refine and evolve the program.

The basic courses can be slightly adapted to the specific needs of the partner company. For example, if a partner company is a financial institution, ongoing projects can be contextualized with banking scenarios to familiarize students with knowledge in the field.

  • Co-delivery of courses with anchor partner companies: Partner companies will be invited to nominate senior software engineers to teach selected core courses as adjunct professors.
  • Program result: The program has been designed to produce well-rounded graduates equipped with comprehensive development skills and software engineering principles for the design, development, testing and maintenance of software systems. Graduates should also be well-versed in cybersecurity, clean coding, DevOps, and modern agile software development methodologies, while possessing strong communication skills and an ability to work productively in a software development team.
  • Potential roles: Software engineer, software developer, software/IT analyst, programmer, software tester, DevOps engineer, software designer, IT solution architect, software architect.

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