Seizing the Opportunity to Pursue Lifelong Learning


At age 44, SMRT Engineer Mr Kasinathan Parthiban will finally have a chance to realise his dream of earning a degree.



Mr Kasinathan Parthiban, a Senior Railway Engineer with SMRT Trains, says that every day he spends at work is an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills. This thirst to acquire knowledge has kept Parthiban going for the past 13 years. Now, at age 44, he will get to realise his dream of obtaining an undergraduate degree, thanks to a new pathway introduced by SIT. 

This alternative route to a degree will allow workplace learners to gain credits towards fulfilling degree requirements, based on the competencies they have acquired through prior work experience. In September 2021, SIT piloted the Competency-Based Workplace Learning Pathway in the land transport and cybersecurity sectors.

Supporting the Burgeoning Land Transport Sector

SMRT Corporation, the parent company of SMRT Trains, together with fellow land transport operator SBS Transit and regulatory body, Land Transport Authority (LTA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SIT in August 2021 to build a strong pipeline of local talent to maintain its rail systems. Parthiban is one of the 15 workplace learners from both land transport operators who enrolled into SIT’s Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering (SIE) (Land) degree programme.

A Singapore permanent resident, Parthiban joined SMRT Trains in 2008 after graduated from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). He had long expressed interest to upgrade himself. With the company’s support, Parthiban enrolled in a part-time diploma course. In 2010, he graduated with a Diploma in Information Technology.


Parthiban performing an on-site inspection on new rails at SMRT Trains’ Bishan Depot.

Continuous Pursuit of Education

A firm believer in continuous learning, he enrolled himself in in-house logistics and signalling courses, completing 16 courses over the 13 years he has been with SMRT Trains. “I was particularly inspired to further my learning in quality control and underwent a course on Quality Control on Permanent Way Spares. I found it very interesting and helpful in further understanding my role in the rail industry.”

Despite the challenge of balancing work and studies, Parthiban was motivated to learn more about materials and processes, as well as to enhance his depth of engineering knowledge. His drive to improve himself bore fruit, in the form of three promotions, which he had received since the start of his workplace learning journey.

“Coming into SMRT Trains, I was motivated and determined to upskill myself, but I never thought that the company would sponsor the cost of my work-study degree at SIT under this structured learning pathway. I’m looking forward to deepening my knowledge and growing in the field of planning and systems life cycles.”

SMRT Corporation will sponsor Parthiban’s tuition fees in the SIE (Land) degree programme at SIT. 

An Ideal Education Structure for Working Adults

Parthiban certainly appreciates the structure of the pathway, that provides workplace learners like himself with greater flexibility and ownership over their learning journey. For example, learners will have access to online lectures for the respective modules, and receive facilitated coaching from SIT faculty.

“Some lectures are pre-recorded on video. This helps me adjust my learning pace at home. My own experience is evidence that lifelong learning is the best way to continue to improve at work,” said Parthiban.

After graduation, Parthiban is looking forward to contributing to the development of railroad maintenance, and perhaps even pursue a master's degree in the future.

“After I have graduated with my degree, I hope to further grow in domain and management skills. I’m grateful for this structured learning pathway that will allow me to do so.”

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