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Putting them on the right career path

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Republic Polytechnic's guidance counsellor helps students with their future

Every year, about 200 students walk into Madam Noormala Atan's office to seek help for their future.

As an Education and Career Guidance (ECG) counsellor in Republic Polytechnic (RP), it is her job to put these students on a prospective career path that would be most suited for them.

Madam Noormala, 53, said: "Identifying the student's strengths and interests is the first step. We then provide them with information about the industry they wish to enter and what jobs they can consider."

She has also seen students with their parents, in hope that the sessions would help inform both parties about the possible careers available.

Madam Noormala added that ECG in RP is a holistic experience that involves the cooperation of the school's management, parents and students.

Madam Noormala was previously a lecturer, but her deputy principal, Dr Michael Koh, convinced her to make the switch and focus her efforts on helping students progress past the classroom.

Madam Noormala is one of the 85 ECG counsellors the Ministry of Education has recruited since 2015 as part of the national SkillsFuture movement. That figure is expected to increase to 100 by the end of this year.


Newly recruited counsellors undergo mandatory training in education and career guidance facilitation as well as counselling before they are deployed to secondary schools, junior colleges or the Millennia Institute, the Institute of Technical Education or polytechnics.

Madam Noormala said: "My training and experiences have convinced me that what I do will be able to make a difference in the lives of the students."

Identifying the student’s strengths and interests is the first step.Madam Noormala Atan

A student who has been impacted by her counselling is Miss Dhania Bahrim, 22, who is studying for her diploma in outdoor and adventure learning.

Miss Dhania said: "I have always liked working with kids, but I was unsure how my diploma could get me a job that aligned with my interests."

With Madam Noormala's help, she is now looking at a career as a physical education teacher.

Another student, Mr Kumara Karthik, 31, who is studying for his diploma in health management and promotion, also approached Madam Noormala.

He said: "I was interested in the health sector, so I wanted to know what jobs were waiting for me once I graduated."

With the counselling, Mr Karthik now wants to focus on physiotherapy and helping the elderly.

He aims to further his education with a specialist diploma or a degree before heading into the health sector as a professional.

In addition to the counsellors, ECG is also woven into RP's curriculum through existing academic modules and career-related lessons conducted by their mentors.

RP students are also exposed to workshops and events such as Industry Days and Career Fairs, which inform them about their future options.