Move aims to produce design-trained workforce that can help Singapore businesses become more resilient, innovative, and competitive despite global uncertainty.
SINGAPORE – Dec 14, 2020: Leading business leaders from design and non-design sectors, and academics from all 14 publicly funded Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) in Singapore have unified in the country’s first-ever Design Education Advisory Committee (DEAC). The committee aims to influence and shape the quality of design education and to embed design into IHL education at the national level, with the goal of developing a resilient and design-trained workforce that can help businesses become competitive through human-centred innovation in the face of global disruption and economic uncertainty.
Launched by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and appointed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the DEAC is the first-ever body of its kind and plans to be the go-to platform for design-education thought and practice leadership. The DEAC aims to lay the foundation for the development of industry-relevant education that will shape the next decade of design education and beyond. In the process, it also hopes to shape a brand of design education and creative capability that is unique to Singapore and worthy of global recognition.
By fostering education-industry amalgamation and collaboration, the DEAC intends to prepare Singapore’s workforce for the new future, one shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, increasing digitalisation and accelerated by the global pandemic, by equipping them with critical core skills – such as creativity, critical thinking, dealing with uncertainty – that will be in demand across all industries.
Said Minister of State for the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms Low Yen Ling, “As the first of its kind design industry and education collaboration, the DEAC will play a vital role in ensuring an agile workforce equipped with the ability to understand changing user behaviour, and capable of innovating and solving complex problems. These valuable skillsets are key in enabling businesses to become more resilient and competitive, especially amid the current global uncertainty. The diverse expertise and experience of DEAC members will provide strategic and market-relevant insights that help the Institutes of Higher Learning shape their curricula to train graduates with skills that the industry needs.”
Ms Jan Chua, Coordinating Divisional Director from the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Group said, “The IHLs work closely with industry partners to ensure that their curricula remain relevant and up-to-date. The DEAC will complement IHLs’ existing efforts and provide additional perspectives to help IHLs ensure that their students will continue to develop design skillsets that will serve them well in the future economy.”
The DEAC will work to shape direction and provide recommendations to strengthen the quality of design manpower pipeline for the short-, mid-, and long-term, covering practice initiatives, collaboration platforms and input on policies. It will also share global perspectives that could inform IHLs’ planning and review of their programmes, and access to overseas networks and resources for design education development. The DEAC will offer additional resources and opportunities for partnerships with industry and give advice on the application of the Skills Framework for Design to sharpen education development. In doing so it aims to serve as the “go-to” advisory platform for IHL design education and direction for the long term, and complement the IHLs’ existing efforts and own industry advisory structures.
The formation of the DEAC was one of the key recommendations mooted by the Design Education Review Committee, which was appointed in August 2017 by the Ministry of Communications and Information to look into strengthening the design education system in Singapore, develop design talent with transdisciplinary skillsets, and foster a workforce with design sensibilities. This was to help realise Singapore’s vision to become an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city by 2025.
The DEAC will be helmed by Mr. Low Cheaw Hwei, Head of Design APAC at Philips ASEAN Pacific. Mr. Low was appointed by Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, to be Chairman on January 17, 2020, for a two-year term commencing on April 1, 2020.
Said Mr. Low Cheaw Hwei, Chairman, DEAC, “Design is about solving problems and today, more than ever creative problem-solving capabilities have become needed core skills for all disciplines of work and professions, especially for an anomalous future we are stepping into. So, design is not solely for designers. The DEAC’s purpose is to raise the quality of our design education as well as to embed design capabilities into IHL education. We aim to do this by reframing the linear relationship between IHLs, industry and policy makers to shape an interdependent, collaborative-community to boldly develop design led proficiencies and cultivate attitudes that will future proof ourselves.”
The DEAC consists of nine industry leaders and 14 IHL members who have been appointed by MTI. Additionally, to augment the work by the DEAC, a resource panel comprising international thought leaders and representatives from relevant sectoral agencies such as SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore, Infocomm Media Development Authority, among others, has also been set up. The resource panel will share perspectives on future trends and research studies in their respective sectors.
To be convened at least four times a year, the first DEAC meeting was held on August 19, 2020. The meetings have seen the committee members delving into the three key themes of: “Improving perceptions and understanding towards the full potential and value of design among Singaporeans”, “Transforming design aspirations, education and training for students to establish core skillsets that are trans- and interdisciplinary in nature through a strong design-focused curriculum” and “Strengthening the relationship and collaboration between IHLs and industry, and establishing common ground”.
Said Mr. Mark Wee, Executive Director, Dsg, “We welcome the formation of the Design Education Advisory Committee as we believe it will shift the needle for design education in Singapore. By building stronger ties between the IHLs, employers and government, and sharing guidance on industry trends and emerging skills needed for our workers to thrive in the future economy, the Committee’s recommendations will help to increase the pipeline of our design talent and spur the growth of the design sector.”
To view the list of Advisory Committee members and sectoral agency representatives on the DEAC Resource Panel, please see Annex A.
To view the DEAC media fact sheet, please see Annex B.
Annexes can be downloaded below.
To view the DERC report and recommendations, please visit: https://designsingapore.org/resources/design-education-review-committee-report