Graduation Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the Nanyang Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony, on Friday 15 May 2015, at 10.00am

Published Date: 15 May 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Chan Lee Mun, Principal and CEO, Nanyang Polytechnic,

Members of the Nanyang Polytechnic Board of Governors

Mr Quek Gim Pew, Chairman, the Engineering Advisory Committee and members of the Committee,

Parents and Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning

1.Thank you for inviting me to be here with you on this joyous occasion. My heartiest congratulations to our Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) graduands, and to our award recipients. Can we take a moment to applaud our family, friends, and teachers – they have given you strong support.

2.Graduation is a big day. For many of you, you are moving from working on your grades to building your careers, and very soon, to building your own families and homes. You will find that your studies will have prepared you well for this moment – you have the knowledge and skills to get started. But how far you will go depends entirely on you.

3.At the end of one phase, is the beginning of another. In an interesting way, your graduation marks the beginning of further learning. Allow me here to speak about how you can: Learn for the Future, Learn Throughout Life, and Learn for Impact.

  • Learn for the Future, because what you can achieve in the years ahead will depend not just on what you have learnt so far, but how well you continue to build deep skills that are needed in the future.
  • Learn Throughout Life, because learning doesn’t happen only in the classroom. You will find many meaningful life and work lessons to be picked up in the workplace and indeed in the community. Anyone can be your teacher. Every situation is an opportunity to improve.
  • And if you’re going to learn for the future, and learn throughout life, you might as well make sure that what you learn will leave a lasting, positive impact on others – go ahead and learn the things that will make life better for others, and hone those skills and attitudes that will transform your learning into benefit for others. So Learn for Impact.
  • Do you notice something? Whether you are learning for the future, learning always and everywhere, or learning just for the sheer joy of it, the point is this: Keep learning. Never stop learning. Learning does not stop once you graduate. Graduation is just the start of a new phase of learning.

Learn for the Future – SkillsFuture and You

4.Why must you learn for the future? Today and in the future, skills matter. But the skills that you will need to excel in your chosen fields today may be very different from the skills that will be needed ten years from now.

5.There is so much changing in the world, much of it driven by technology. So change is the one constant in life, and we must be ready to pick up skills that will help us move with this change.

6.This is where SkillsFuture comes into the picture. With SkillsFuture, we commit to helping you acquire the skills that will help you stay on top of change, and excel at what you do, so that you can have a better future.

Learn Throughout Life – Future Opportunities and You

7.So, learn for the future. To do that, we need to learn always and everywhere. We should learn not just when we are in the classroom, or during our schooling years, but throughout life, in all contexts.

8.As part of your time at NYP, most, if not all of you, have had the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom through internships. Internships can provide a very enriching learning experience as they allow you to apply your knowledge in a real-world context, and to develop skills that are best learnt outside the classroom.

9.But this depends on two factors. First, students need to go in with the right attitude. They need to be willing to try new things, work hard, and take the initiative to find things out for themselves. Earlier on, I was speaking to some employers who shared with me that the best students make the best use of their internship because they take the initiative to propose ideas and to learn. Second, we need host companies to be willing to provide the necessary support and mentorship to our students, and to provide them with the right mix of opportunities to learn. This is why our Institutes of Higher Learning are working with employers to make many enhancements to internships.

10.I am happy to share with you that this morning, we witnessed the signing of MOUs between NYP and 50 industry partners to enhance internships for meaningful workplace learning.

  • This is the biggest MOU signing to date to enhance internships for our students.
  • The 50 partner companies are from a broad range of sectors, such as Microsoft in Information Technology (IT), Singapore Power in Engineering, and Mediacorp in Media. I am truly heartened by the number of employers collaborating with our polytechnics to enhance internships. When our schools and companies work together, they create powerful contexts for our students to learn in new and meaningful ways.
  • The structured internship programmes that NYP will launch with these 50 companies will be longer than current internships – typically six months or more, with structured learning outcomes, clear job scopes, and mentors to guide the interns.

11.With these enhancements to internships, students will be able to have more purposeful and effective on-the-job learning, together with the time necessary to pick up deep skills. They will also be able to immerse themselves deeper in the industry sectors and understand the soft and hard skills that are needed to succeed in the working world.

12.Employers play a critical role in providing real world learning opportunities, and we hope that these closer links between industry and education will continue to enrich the learning experience of many students in the years to come, just as many of you hopefully have had.

13.As you graduate today, what does learning throughout life mean for you?

14.The textbooks of the future have not yet been written. What we need to learn for the future, we may not know yet. Thus, for you, learning throughout life also means continuing to learn at every stage of your life, even as you embark on your careers. As you have experienced during your time in internship, you can be an effective learner by being open-minded to learn from everyone, everywhere, and at any time.

15.How can you do this?

  • One option is the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme. The programme places you with progressive employers who are committed to your development, so that you can learn while working and earning your salary too.
  • SkillsFuture will also support you to learn throughout all stages of your lives through other means. As Singaporeans, you will be able to select from a wide range of highly-subsidised courses to meet your specific learning needs at any time in your career. These will range from full qualification programmes such as specialist and advanced diplomas, to bite-sized modular courses that provide more targeted upgrading.
  • You can also look forward to getting the SkillsFuture Credit when you turn 25, which can be used to pay for fees of work-skills related courses on top of existing course fee subsidies.

16.SkillsFuture is about supporting Singaporeans to deepen skills at every stage of your careers. We hope to create a culture where all Singaporeans can learn throughout life, to develop the skills needed to stay ahead.

Learn for Impact – Singapore’s Future and You

17.Ultimately, why do we learn? Why do we strive to excel? It is not just about the careers we want to build; it is about the home we want to be a part of. This year we celebrate 50 years of Singapore as a nation. As we reflect on what our pioneers went through over the last 50 years to bring us to where we are, we also need to think about what we want for the future, for the next 50 years.

18.Here, I would like to commend NYP students for your good work in using your skills and technology to develop innovative solutions to benefit society. I know that our lecturers and our advisory board have been very supportive of your effort in this area. Last week, we saw the launch of the mobile anti-drug game application, developed by NYP students in collaboration with the Central Narcotics Bureau. Another project is the development of a web application offering pedestrian path information, and barrier-free routing for wheel-chair users. The pilot project currently covers Ang Mo Kio Town. This, and many more, are meaningful projects, and a good way in which students are making an impact on our society – to make Singapore a better place for us to live, to work and to play.

19.I would like to encourage you today, to consider how you can use your skills to contribute back to the society, and to build a better future for Singapore in the years ahead.

Closing Remarks

20.In closing, as you graduate from NYP today, you have completed one step of your journey into the future.

  • Learn for the future, so that you can be on top of constant change.
  • Learn Throughout life. Seize every opportunity to learn, including the many new platforms created through SkillsFuture.
  • Learn for Impact. Apply your skills to create positive, lasting benefits for others.

21.Thank you and congratulations once again.

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