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Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore's Institute of Technical Education shares breakthrough in vocational & technical education

December 08, 2014

Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore's Institute of Technical Education Dr Law Seng Song has published his book on breakthroughs in vocational and technical education with leading publisher World Scientific.

This book tells the story of a breakthrough in Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) in Singapore. It led to a fundamental transformation under the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) over a period of fifteen years (1992-2007).

It was a relentless journey made possible through strategic planning, organisational excellence, innovation and ingenuity. Winner of the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) in 2005 and Harvard-IBM Innovations in Transforming Government in 2007, the ITE brand today is synonymous with a world-class institution with well-equipped campuses where students enjoy a holistic education built on industry-relevant skills and high employability.

There has been much international effort to improve or transform VTE. However, the outcomes often remain elusive. VTE continues to be largely shunned by society as a sector of education for low-achievers and academic failures. The success of ITE was not a given. It did not happen by chance. In a culture that deeply reveres an academic university education, there were daunting challenges in striving to change societal mindset and attitudes.

But, how do you transform the system? How do you change mindset about VTE? How do you rebrand an institution? This book, based on a first-hand CEO account, vividly captures the sort of leadership, policy choices, fundamental principles and capabilities which led to that transformation. The details of the "what, when, how and why" are a valuable guide for leaders and practitioners in building quality and sustainable VTE systems that are responsive to social and economic needs.

It is a compelling inside story. Written in three parts, Part I begins with a historical background to the VTE sector in Singapore, a systems view of the dynamics and challenges faced by the VTE system and propounds the fundamental importance of aligning education and economic development goals.

The focus in Part II is the three waves of transformation from the former Vocational and Industrial Training Board (VITB) to ITE in Singapore that was motivated by an early interest in organisational excellence and supported by a consistent use of strategic planning. In the process was changing the image of vocational training and creating a unique brand of a world-class ITE education and training model that ITE is today.

Part III is a reflection of what it takes to build a sustainable high-quality VTE system in the light of Singapore's experience, international context and changing policy environment. It also shares the author's thoughts on how the Singapore ITE story may be an inspiration to others facing similar challenges in VTE.

This book should be of interest to a wide audience. It sets out how governments and policy makers need to make hard decisions on policy choices and investment priorities in vocational and technical education and training. To researchers and academics, the Singapore ITE experience could be an excellent practical model of what is achievable in vocational training and its impact on social development and mobility.

International development and donor agencies may find some useful practical lessons in considering the applicability of the strategic policies and fundamental principles in building sustainable high-quality VTE systems from the Singapore experience. Leaders and practitioners will hopefully in the ITE Model, an inspiration to shape a vision that will transform VTE systems according to national needs.

The book retails at all major bookstores for US$58 / £38 / SGD65. More information on the book can be found at
About the author

Dr Law Song Seng was the founding Director and Chief Executive Officer (1992-2007) of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in Singapore. Dubbed as "Mr ITE", his visionary leadership and team have been instrumental in the transformation of ITE. Dr Law continues to share this remarkable Singapore story in vocational and technical education with the international community.

Dr Law previously served as Senior Advisor and Chairman & CEO of ITE Education Services Pte Ltd (2007-2012); Director & CEO of Vocational & Industrial Training Board (1981-1992); Lecturer, Associate Professor and Head of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore (1973-1983); Visiting Lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (1980); Manufacturing Development Engineer with the Ford Motor Company in the United States (1972-1973); and Assistant Lecturer in the Singapore Polytechnic (1968-1973).

Currently, Dr Law is Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam, Advisor to Temasek Foundation and Member of the Education Sub-Commission in the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO.

Dr Law was educated at Bukit Panjang Government High School and Victoria School in Singapore. A Colombo Plan Scholar, he graduated with First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering from University of Auckland, New Zealand in 1968, and MSc (1971) and PhD (1972) from University of Wisconsin, USA, under a Ford Foundation Scholarship. He is the recipient of several awards: The National Day Public Administration Medal (Gold)(1984), Education Award (1994) by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Singapore Foundation, Center on Education and Training (1997) Distinguished Service Award, Ohio State University, USA, Medal of Commendation (2001) by National Trades Union Congress and Public Administration Medal (Gold)(Bar)(2006) in recognition of his national and international contributions in vocational and technical education

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. The company publishes about 500 books annually and more than 120 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation, US National Academies Press, as well as its subsidiary, Imperial College Press, to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit

World Scientific

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