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Design-led creative thinking to drive innovation for the future economy in Singapore

5 min read

Singapore, 3 July 2019 – Following a two-year review, the Design Education Review Committee (DERC), chaired by Mr Tan Pheng Hock, retired CEO of ST Engineering, today released a report with recommendations to transform and strengthen design education in all Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in Singapore. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has accepted the report’s strategic directions and recommendations that are aimed at developing design talent with transdisciplinary skillsets and a workforce with design sensibilities. These recommendations support the vision of Singapore becoming an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city by 2025.

2    The report covers five key recommendations to enhance existing design programmes in the IHLs and increase the appreciation and use of design across different disciplines: first, strengthen industry links through a Design Education Advisory Committee (DEAC); second, impart design-led creative thinking skills to students across more disciplines; third, support Continuing Education and Training (CET) for design professionals and educators; fourth, create real-world design-learning platforms for professionals; and fifth, empower everyone to learn about design through modular courses and learning communities. Please refer to Annex A for an overview of the report and recommendations.

3   Amidst rapid industry transformation, a workforce that is skilled in design can play an instrumental role in enabling companies to remain competitive and innovative. The future economy requires more designers who can integrate knowledge and methods from different design disciplines and operate in non-design contexts. Likewise, non-designers must be equipped with design-related skills to enable innovation in the workplace. To build such a workforce with adaptive skillsets amidst a fast-changing employment landscape, Singapore will need to update its design education and training system. The DERC has proposed strategies to support and strengthen existing efforts in Pre-Employment Training (PET) and CET in Singapore IHLs.

4   Elaborating on the impact of design on the workforce and economy, Mr Tan, said, “A robust design education system will enable everyone to appreciate the value of design and apply it in their work and everyday lives. The Design Education Review Committee hopes that the five recommendations will help create more effective ways for people to learn design, and nurture generations of citizens able to leverage design to improve the lives of fellow Singaporeans and contribute to society and the economy.”

5   To enable implementation of these recommendations, the Dsg will form a DEAC, comprising design industry professionals, leaders from non-design sectors and IHLs, representatives from public service agencies and international thought leaders. The DEAC will facilitate stronger partnerships between the IHLs, employers and government, and offer advice on industry trends and emerging skills needed for our workers to thrive in the future economy.

6   Two pilot programmes will also be rolled out in line with the recommendations. The first is “Let’s Design Together” – a transdisciplinary design-learning programme that will be piloted at the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) in the 2019 academic year. Students from five participating schools at SP will collaborate with industry partners to solve real-world issues using design-led creative thinking approaches. Another pilot programme is the “School of X” – a real-world platform for professionals to come together and tackle complex issues using design-led creative thinking beyond the formal curriculum. More details about these two pilot programmes can be found in Annex B.

7   The Dsg will continue to work with the various public service agencies and industry leaders to study the recommendations, and spearhead the implementation of plans to drive innovation and growth in the future economy using design.

8   The DERC, which comprises two workgroups with more than 30 members from both the public and private sectors, made its recommendations informed by findings from the 2017 National Design Industry and Manpower Study, as well as over 40 interviews and focus group discussions with stakeholders from the design education system.

About the Design Education Review Committee

The Design Education Review Committee (DERC) was appointed in 2017 by the Ministry of Communications and Information and was tasked to propose strategies that Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) could adopt to strengthen their design education programmes, and to embed design in their non-design education programmes. It comprises two sub-workgroups with more than 30 members from diverse backgrounds, including representatives from the private sector from both design and non-design firms, public sector agencies, and Institutes of Higher Learning.

Written on : 03 Jul 2019

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Esther Ng

Edelman Singapore

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Justin Lutian

Edelman Singapore

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Singapore’s highest honour for designers and designs across all disciplines
One of Asia’s premier design festivals that champions design thought leadership
National Design Centre