WOU is exploring collaboration with Dream Catcher to capture the largely untapped market demand for the training of people, particularly fresh graduates, in job-specific skills set to enhance employability or boost career prospects.
Initial discussions were held at the WOU main campus today between the two parties to see how they could work together to offer academic qualifications augmented by hands-on, updated knowledge and skills.
Among those present were WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap, WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye, DISTED College President/CEO Dr Seah Soo Aun, as well as Dream Catcher Consulting Sdn Bhd Principal Consultant/Managing Director Choo Wai Heng, Principal Consultant Dr Hor Poh Jin and shareholder Dato’ Yoon Chon Leong.
Choo shared that Dream Catcher, started some 10 years ago, offers continuous education in electronic engineering, specific needs of the oil and gas sector, and other domains. He said they provide both short courses as well as structured 1-6 month programmes on subjects that are within their capacity.
Dream Catcher, he added, also provides courseware - syllabus, teaching slides, lab experiments and tools - to universities worldwide, and this is updated every six months to a year. He said WOU can adapt the courseware and include them as electives for a few of its undergraduate programmes. Dato’ Yoon stressed that the electives have to be relevant from the industry standpoint.
Another potential collaboration is offering a 1-2 month course, either online or face-to-face, at WOU on specific skills sets to help students get employed faster. He said they need to tap into the large group of students, who are now being sponsored by the government to improve the nation’s talent pool but this may not continue in the long-run. He said Dream Catcher and WOU can work together to make this a self-sustainable venture, with the University initially offering scholarships to kickstart this effort.
Choo elaborated that WOU can value-add their degree programmes with a post-graduate certification from Dream Catcher, with parents willing to pay for their children to enrol if jobs are guaranteed. “They can be WOU students or students from other university. With the certification, they would be more sought after by industry.”
He said Dream Catcher’s brand name is established in industry as they have trained some 25,000 engineers and scientists for the past 10 years. “We go to industry and ask what skills set they want their employees to have. Then we get their assurance that with such training, the company will take them in. Then WOU goes to parents, convince them with this programme plus certification, students are guaranteed jobs by the company. Then we offer that programme,” stressed Choo.
He said that if this collaboration is successful, then more industries would want to come on board and more parents would want to enrol their children to study at WOU as the programmes have industry endorsement.
Prof Ho said that preparing and offering elective courses with assistance from Dream Catcher will not be a problem. With regard to postgraduate certification, Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Prof Ho concurred that they should continue to explore and work on this model to develop a structure that can be self-sustainable. “WOU is prepared to sit down with Dream Catcher to work this out,” Prof Ho added.