HE is passionate about helping adults to upgrade themselves and wants to enhance the way they learn.

Mr Thomas Lazzerine, programme chair (Work-Learn Programme) at the School of Hospitality at Republic Polytechnic (RP), feels that the best way to effectively engage mature students is to utilise their work experiences and life circumstances.

School of life

Mr Lazzerine’s role entails working with schools, industry partners and potential participants of the programmes, and sees opportunities to grow the continuing education and training (CET) segment.

He says: “I make it a point to understand the challenges our adult learners face. For them to be able to strike a balance between family, work and studies is no small effort and this needs to be recognised from the beginning."

“Most adult learners are self-motivated as they made the decision to upgrade themselves and were not ‘forced’ into the situation.”

Mr Lazzerine, 39, notes that many of the adult learners at RP attend classes after work. Working in hospitality-related organisations, they may even have to double-up on back-to-back shifts to get to their lessons. While adult learners may be in the classroom to learn, it is also important to draw from the students’ experiences to encourage collaborative learning within the classroom, he adds.

Workplace ready

RP emphasises developing authentic learning experiences so that learners are ready for the industry and to work globally.

Mr Lazzerine says: “Through the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP), we have formed good partnerships within our sector, comprising fellow educators from the other institutes of higher learning (IHL) — the other Polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

“Through this collaboration, we discuss opportunities to synergise efforts and capitalise on one another’s strengths. We also continuously aim to build strong rapport with our industry partners to understand their needs better.

“This will better enable us to curate programmes that will be beneficial for students and the industry.”

Under its Industry Attachment Scheme, the institution also encourages its staff to return to work in the industry for a period of time so that they may be updated on current skills and job requirements. This allows teaching staff to keep abreast of new industry trends and to deliver lessons more effectively.

Mr Lazzerine says: “As technology advances, industry demands also change. So, the way we learn needs to evolve. There is a shift towards bite-sized learning and learning on the go, where mobile apps are used as part of our andragogy and lessons are curated in 15- to 20-minute sessions.

“Singaporeans need to continuously look into upskilling themselves to be productive in the workforce, learning new skills to stay relevant and employable by organisations.”

RP launched the ELP for the hotel sector for polytechnic graduates in May 2016 and 48 participants graduated with a Specialist Diploma in Hospitality Business Management last May.

RP also launched the Hotel Sector ELP for ITE graduates in October 2016. The ITE ELP candidates recently completed their 18-month programme under “Earn and Learn” and all of them have enrolled to continue their part-time classes for 12 more months.

At the end of that period, they will attain a Diploma in Business Practice (Hospitality Management) from RP.

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