By Phyllis Lee
Despite having over 1.3 million individuals in Singapore’s foreign workforce, migrant workers are still being marginalised when it comes to upskilling opportunities.
One of the few local institutions that was established to cater to this specific population is Camford International College, which has been accredited with UK-based Accreditation Services for International Colleges.
Over the past three years, Camford has helped more than 3,000 migrant workers hailing from China and Malaysia to upgrade their skills.
The institution offers diploma courses in Business, Business Administration, Tourism and Hospitality Management, which are specially designed to suit the needs of foreign workers.
As blue-collar migrant workers usually have busy and odd working hours, students are only required to attend lessons once or twice per week. Camford’s students have flexible learning schedules as well – they can arrange their lesson schedules to their own convenience, and even opt for classes over the weekend.
Those who are unable to make it for a physical class can catch up via e-learning or smaller group tutorial sessions with their lecturers.
The school also promotes the belief that language is not a barrier to education.
Director at Camford Jackson Heng told The Independent on Tuesday (Oct 3):
“We offer our diploma courses in two languages – English and Chinese. Getting a diploma in business doesn’t mean that you have to learn in English. It’s the knowledge that counts.”
Top four skills migrant workers want to learn
Camford conducted a dipstick survey with 100 students to find out what skills they would like to learn from their courses, apart from academic knowledge.
They found that the top four skills the students wanted to gain were communication skills (business communication and language aspects), leadership and entrepreneurial skills, personal character strengths, as well as creativity and innovation.
Ms Thandar Soe, principal of Camford, said that these skills are not specified within the curriculum, but are taught through group discussions and projects.
“There is no end to learning. Nobody can be certain that whatever you learn today will still be relevant in the future. As an educator, we are responsible to teach students to be self-regulated and independent learners, so that they can continue to equip themselves with new skills even after they leave the school.”
How Camford benefits foreign workers and Singapore’s economy
“Some migrant workers in Singapore feel a little excluded. Helping them to upgrade their skills and integrate them into the society actually builds their self-confidence,” Mr Heng said.
The specialised knowledge and soft skills students gain from their studies at Camford will not only enhance their future employability, but also improve Singapore’s economy.
According to Mr Heng, most foreign workers who enroll in Camford have the intention to stay on in Singapore to work.
By providing a platform for foreign workers to level up their skill sets, they are able to add value to their work. This will in turn boost labour mobility, job productivity and efficiency, benefiting both the economy and employers.
Ms Thandar said:
“There are a number of foreigners in our workforce – about 20 per cent. By helping them, we believe that we are indirectly helping the nation. It is important to help them because they’re also a group that is in a way, left out, in the society.”
In line with their efforts to promote lifelong learning, Camford will be providing free short courses on basic computer, resume and interview skills for their graduates – as well as graduates from their affiliate school Briton Language School – from Nov 18.