The pilot Competency-Based Workplace Learning (CBWL) pathway at SIT provides an avenue for lifelong learners to seek education that may have been out of reach earlier.
41-year-old info-security manager, Jonathan Goh, decided to upgrade himself with a degree after working for 20 years in the Information Technology field.
It is not uncommon to meet avid learners who may have cut their education journeys short in their youth due to family, life events, or work commitments. As responsibilities pile up in adult years, it can get even tougher to strike a new path and go back to school.
With three young children under 10 and a heavy work commitment, 41-year-old info-security manager Jonathan Goh can relate to this. After all, he has been keeping a dream on the backburner all these years.
“I’d hoped to read for a degree, but I was very committed to my work and didn’t want to burden my family with additional obligations,” Jonathan shared.
In 2021, Jonathan’s wish to read a bachelor’s degree finally came true after 20 years in the Information Technology (IT) industry, when SIT piloted the Competency-Based Workplace Learning (CBWL) pathway.
The CBWL pathway at SIT embraces applied learning and provides opportunities for adult learners to seek recognition of their prior competencies as well as work experience while pursuing a full-time degree.
Forging a New Path
Jonathan and 14 colleagues embarked on a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Information and Communications Technology (Information Security) degree programme at SIT last year, in collaboration with his employer Ensign InfoSecurity Pte Ltd.
Ensign InfoSecurity was one of the four industry partners who signed the Memorandum of Understanding with SIT to upskill their workforce to meet evolving industry needs. Allowing adult learners like Jonathan to achieve alignment between academic achievement and work performance is a significant milestone for employed individuals looking for a shot at upgrading themselves.
Armed with a diploma from Temasek Polytechnic and two decades of work experience under his belt, Jonathan did not hesitate to sign up once he got the full support of his wife.
Jonathan Goh and his family. From left: Jonathan's wife, Yvonne and sons Jayvier, Jaysen and Jayden.
“I wanted to sell the idea of reaching beyond one’s comfort levels, especially to my children,” he shared. “I see learning as a lifelong commitment, and we should challenge ourselves for growth.”
Jonathan hopes to grow and nurture the team of cybersecurity professionals he is leading, and he believes that the technical knowledge on cybersecurity gained through the degree programme with SIT will help him achieve that.
Pacing for the Long Game
Jonathan’s employer, Ensign InfoSecurity, understands that going back to school is not an easy task, especially so when undertaking education and working concurrently for an extensive period.
The company lends practical and emotional support to employees who are on the programme while still being gainfully employed, facilitating study groups as well as providing online on-demand learning.
To Jonathan and many adult students, juggling studies on top of personal and professional responsibilities is an ultimate endurance test in prioritising commitments, shouldering work, and being present for the family.
Being the oldest among his colleagues undertaking the CBWL pathway, Jonathan is conscious of managing his life around new demands as a student. He has a full plate which evolves daily: his day typically begins at six in the morning, when he sends his children to school, and ends in the evening after putting his children to bed.
Any time in between is sectioned up to attend lectures and tutorials, work on projects with classmates, pick up his children from after-school care, or pop into the office to catch up and study with colleagues.
“These days, I spend quality time with my children by studying together!” Jonathan shared candidly. “My wife reminds me that I’ll be 45 by the time I’m done with the programme, but this is a goal I’ve set my heart on fulfilling.”
Experience: More Than the Sum of its Parts
With a solid repository of work experience, Jonathan is seasoned in project management, which helps in his course projects. He also shares a natural camaraderie with peers within SIT and work, which gave him the ease to explore different dimensions in his role as an adult learner.
“I’ve always been interested in learning about being a white-hat hacker, but I’ve not had the chance to venture into that at work,” Jonathan said. “The current programme I’m in will afford me a chance to explore the areas in ethical security hacking.”
Jonathan’s belief in upgrading himself and supporting his team to do the same aligns with his company’s goals, with the endgame of paying it forward by applying new skills and experience to nurturing a new generation of cybersecurity professionals.
“It’s been rewarding to learn from my younger course mates, picking up new programming skills and learning to use Discord to discuss projects after school,” Jonathan shared warmly. “There’s much to learn, and upskilling is like a constantly evolving muscle that we need to keep training so that we can meet fresh challenges head-on.”