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Credit: ITE and Johnson Controls

Credit: ITE and Johnson Controls

Singapore’s ITE launches new Building Technologies and Solutions Centre to nurture technical workforce

On Mar 1, Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) partnered building technology solutions company Johnson Controls to launch the new Building Technologies and Solutions Centre.

Established in 1992 under the Ministry of Education of Singapore (MOE), ITE is a post-secondary education institution and a principal provider of career and technical education. At the same time, it is a key developer of national occupational skills certification and standards. Its mission is to create opportunities for students and adult learners to acquire skills, knowledge and values for employability and lifelong learning. It now has 3 ITE Colleges across the island – ITE College Central, ITE College East and ITE College West.

A move to nurture the next generation of skilled technicians and hands-on engineers in the building technology and services industry, the collaboration was inked by Ms Low Khah Gek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ITE, and Mr Ken Lim, General Manager, Building Technologies & Solutions Singapore, Johnson Controls, at ITE College East. 

This first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to develop technical workforce for the future in the areas of building technology and facilities management.

In the new ITE-Johnson Controls Building Technologies and Solutions Centre, ITE students now have to opportunity operate a fully-functioning chiller plant system - an authentic learning experience in building management facility specifically designed for a classroom setting in Singapore.  

“The partnership between industry and education institutions makes a big difference in the teaching and learning of work-relevant skills. With this MOU, theory lessons come alive for students when they can use and work on a real chiller plant system. It makes learning authentic and helps our students to assimilate quickly into the actual work environment.” Said Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO of ITE.

Previously, students could only attend observation lessons outside of the classroom and did not have access to live systems to experiment and operate in real-time.

Chiller Plant Room

The Centre will feature top-grade technical equipment programmed and installed by Johnson Controls to simulate a real-world chiller plant room, including:

1.       Water-cooled YORK® chiller

2.       Smart building management system powered by Metasys®

3.       Smart connected chiller application

4.       Physical security and video management solution

Some of the ITE students shared their experience and views on the new Centre.

“This is great exposure for us. In class, we learn from books, slides and demonstration videos but nothing beats having to see the air handling unit, cooling tower and chiller right in front of you. I feel like I’m transported into actual work surroundings. Yet this is where we are also able to make mistakes in a controlled environment. It definitely prepares us for our internships which will start in October this year,” said 19 year-old Mr Preston Lim who is currently a Year 1 student enrolled in ITE’s Higher Nitec in Facility Management programme.

As Singapore pushes ahead with the goal to transform 80% of all buildings to be energy efficient by 2030, engineers and technicians will need to master cutting-edge technologies that will make buildings smart and green.

Collectively, the Integrated Facilities Management market in the Southeast Asia region will experience a double-digit growth of more than 10 percent to reach market revenues exceeding US$2 billion from 2015 to 20211, and with that comes the need for trained experts who are able to operate and manage these systems.

“We’re entering into a new era of facilities management with the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics as well as increasing need for sustainability and security”, said Mr Ken Lim, General Manager, Building Technologies & Solutions Singapore, Johnson Controls.

“As more technology-enabled applications impact our daily lives, a smart city is no longer just an abstract concept. In fact, we’re gradually transitioning into what can be described as a responsive city, where we are no longer just passive beneficiaries but also active players and contributors. To ensure citizens are ready and able to ride the waves of change, technology companies will have to assume a bigger role in empowering the workforce,” Mr Lim added.

The ITE-Johnson Controls Building Technologies and Solutions Centre will serve as a training centre for students enrolled in Higher Nitec in Facility Management; Nitec in Facility Technology; and the new Work-Learn Technical Diploma in Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Services Supervision, allowing them to apply their knowledge to real-life smart building management systems.

Panel Discussion

Following the MoU signing ceremony, ITE and Johnson Controls hosted a thought leadership forum for academics and practitioners in the built environment industry. The forum was themed “A Smart Workforce for a Smart Nation”.

Mr Poon King Wang, Director of Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities (LKYCIC), Singapore University of Design and Technology (SUTD) was among keynote speakers and panellists.

In his keynote speech, Mr Poon talked about how technological change can be harnessed to build human capacity which then drives more innovation as well as accelerate economic growth.

At the same time, he highlighted that businesses should re-organise the business to prepare its human capital to adapt to the digital disruption ahead. Organisations could do so by assessing the disruption risk by evaluating the number of tasks that are likely to be automated in the future.

Recently, OpenGov published an exclusive article on our conversation with Mr Poon about his team’s new book titled Living Digital 2040: Future of Work, Education, and Healthcare.

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