Graduation Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, at the Temasek Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony 2015, Temasek Convention Centre, Temasek Polytechnic, on Monday 18 May, at 9.30am

Published Date: 18 May 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Lee Kok Choy
Chairman, Temasek Polytechnic Board of Governors,

Mr Boo Kheng Hua
Principal & CEO, Temasek Polytechnic,

Members of the Temasek Polytechnic Board of Governors and School of Engineering Advisory Committee

Distinguished Guests

Staff

Parents and Graduands,

Introduction

1.Congratulations to award recipients and all graduands from the Diplomas in Aerospace Electronics and Aerospace Engineering.

2.Today, we celebrate the successful completion of your studies at Temasek Polytechnic (TP).

3.I am honoured to be here with proud parents, family members and friends to witness this significant milestone in our students’ learning journey.

The Past to Present - Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence in Education

4.This year is also of special significance as it marks the 25th anniversary of TP’s founding.

  • TP was started in 1990 with just three schools – Business, Design, and Technology – offering 9 diploma courses.
  • You can see in this photo, the first batch of TP’s graduates in 1991.
  • There were only 89 of them, all students from the School of Design. Speaking to them at their graduating ceremony was Dr Tay Eng Soon, the then-Senior Minister of State for Education.
  • At that time, TP was operating out of its temporary campuses at Stirling Road and Grange Road.
  • Plans for the new campus had yet to be developed, but Dr Tay was confident then that the campus would be aesthetically and functionally outstanding, and a landmark that all would be proud of. More importantly, he was confident that our economy would continue to need more polytechnic graduates, and that practice-oriented polytechnic diploma holders would continue to be well-received by our companies.
  • We started with an idea, a vision of developing an alternative path for education and success for students. We took a leap of faith and implemented it. Fast forward 24 years to the present, and here we are today in the campus which was then just a concept.

5.There is much that we can be proud of TP today beyond its campus. TP’s commitment to excellence has allowed it to establish itself firmly as one of the pillars of technical education in Singapore.

  • From an intake of just 873 in 1991, TP now takes in more than five times the number of students each year.
  • From offering only 9 courses in 1991, it now offers 51 courses across six schools, helping to nurture talent in a wide range of areas.

6.TP has accomplished much – its largest accomplishment being the nurturing of generations of young graduates like yourselves, with the skills that are in demand.

The Present to Future – SkillsFuture

7.But the rapid pace of technological change means that the world of work which the polytechnics are preparing its students for is changing.

  • In 2013, the British Broadcasting Corporation News (BBC) ran an article about the fascinating plans researchers had to use moon soil to build a space station on the moon via 3D printing. This may sound far-fetched but in fact, we are not far from something like that.
  • 3D printing is already being used extensively in the aerospace sector. Boeing uses a large number of aircraft replacement parts that are 3D printed. 10 years ago, this was unheard of. Nobody would have thought that it was possible to fabricate anything that you need instantly with just a digital file and a printer.
  • Technological advancements have changed jobs in the past and it will continue to change jobs in the future.
  • In light of these changes, educational institutions like TP must adapt and respond so that they can continue to develop their students effectively, and prepare them well for the future economy.

8.It was for this reason, that I had led a committee last year, to review and consider how applied education in the polytechnics and ITE could be strengthened.

  • Our goal was to ensure that graduates like yourselves will continue to enjoy good opportunities to progress in your careers and thrive in the future.
  • The recommendations of that committee have now been carried over to SkillsFuture. SkillsFuture is about empowerment. SkillsFuture is about always learning and developing new skills so that you will always be in demand. SkillsFuture is about being very good at what you do, and being adaptable to changing circumstances.

9.What does this mean for TP and the other polytechnics?

Tightened Linkages with Industry

10.First, they will need to strengthen the connection between education and the work place. Why is this so?

  • So that your leaning is real and relevant.
  • So that potential employers will get to know you and you get to know them.
  • So that as educational institutions, they are always at the cutting edge and forefront of the areas in which they are teaching.
  • In this way, we, the Singapore education model, can be a model of what an industry- relevant education truly means.

11.To achieve this, TP and the other polytechnics, will have to:

  • Enhance their internship programmes; and
  • Develop new Earn and Learn programmes. The Earn and Learn programme will place polytechnic graduates like you with progressive employers, where you can apply your skills and earn salaries as employees, but at the same time, continue to learn and gradually acquire additional skills-relevant qualifications. This will put you in a stronger position to advance your careers once you have completed the programme.

12.To engage the industry more effectively, each polytechnic will be appointed coordinator for specific industry sectors. TP for example, is the sector coordinator for:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Info-communications and Technology

13.As sector coordinator, the institution will coordinate outreach and engagement across the polytechnics and ITE with employers in their selected industry sector, and look for opportunities to strengthen linkages through internships and other partnerships.

Continuing Education and Training – Modular Courses

14.Second, the polytechnics, together with ITE and the universities, will do much more to support their graduates and the rest of the working population in developing and deepening their skills, at different stages of their careers and lives.

15.The polytechnics already offer a range of Continuing Education and Training (CET) programmes such as advanced and specialist diploma courses, to help those who want, to develop the skills they need for their work and careers.

16.This is Mr Kelvin Kuan, who graduated from TP with a Diploma in Law and Management in 2004. Kelvin shared that while the skills he had picked up during his diploma had been useful in starting his career, it became less relevant over time, due to advances in technology. This spurred him to return to TP to do a specialist diploma in Accounting and Finance. Doing so enabled him to refresh his accounting knowledge and learn new skills that could be applied to his role as a Business Development Manager.

17.Under SkillsFuture, the provision of such programmes will be greatly stepped up to help others like Kelvin, expand their skillsets to perform better at their jobs.

18.Here, I am happy to announce that from October 2015 onwards, the polytechnics will be launching enhanced Post-Diploma Certificate courses, or enhanced PDCs for short. These enhanced PDCs are targeted at polytechnic graduates who wish to refresh their skills and keep up-to-date with developments in a field related to their original area of training in the polytechnics.

19.The development of these enhanced PDCs arose from feedback from your seniors – polytechnic alumni – during our engagement with them last year. While your diploma prepares you to embark on careers in related fields, those who had not done so immediately after graduation, whether to serve National Service, or to pursue jobs in other fields, found it daunting to return to the field for which they were trained. This was particularly so for fast-moving industries like the IT sector.

20.The new Enhanced PDCs will thus help to bridge this gap.

  • The enhanced PDCs will also be run in a more intensive mode, allowing completion within a shorter duration of one to two months, compared to existing programmes.
  • The enhanced PDCs will be fully subsidised for Singaporeans who had graduated for at least 2 years from a relevant polytechnic diploma, and taking up the PDC for the first time.
  • Polytechnic graduates who wish to re-enter the industry for which they were trained, will thus be able to get equipped with the skills that they need to do so in a much shorter time.

21.So as you graduate today and embark on your careers, be rest assured that you will continue to have support and access to opportunities to deepen, and acquire the skills that you need to progress in your careers.

The Aerospace Industry

22.Singapore is known globally as an aviation hub and a regional leader in Aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and manufacturing.

23.As diploma graduates in Aerospace Engineering and Aerospace Electronics, there are four main career tracks that are available to you.

  • You may choose to be an Inspector, to assist in the investigation of damaged aircraft parts and to ensure aircraft components are repaired for defects.
  • You may choose to be a Planner dealing with production control, production scheduling and material requirements planning.
  • You may also choose to be an Aircraft or Workshop Technician, dealing with aircraft MRO activities.
  • Finally, you may choose to be a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer or Workshop Engineer by undergoing further training while working to eventually lead a team of technicians to carry out MRO activities.

24.To succeed in your careers, not only must you develop mastery in your technical skills, you must also seek to develop mastery in your soft skills. In our discussions with companies in the Aerospace sector, they mentioned that apart from the requisite technical knowledge, new hires need good communication and interpersonal skills, good analytical and problem-solving skills, initiative and a positive working attitude. Your greatest asset must be your willingness to keep learning. You will find many opportunities to deepen your skills and become amazing professionals who help to build a brighter future not only for yourselves, but for your loved ones, the community and the nation.

25.Singapore is slated to grow as an aviation hub. This means that for anyone coming to Asia, they will be transiting at Singapore. We will be the port of call. Travellers from all over the world would come and leave in planes that you would have worked on. Singapore will continue growing as an aviation hub because of the work that you do, which in turn will lead to the creation of more jobs in the service industry, the finance industry, the tourism industry and many more. Everything that you do in your job will also have an impact on other sectors.

26.If you can build on the knowledge you have acquired in TP, acquire mastery over the soft skills I have mentioned and leverage the opportunities available to you under SkillsFuture to take advantage of the global and regional expansion of the Aerospace industry, you can be rest assured of a bright future ahead of you.

Conclusion

27.Congratulations once again to all award recipients and all graduands. I wish all of you the very best as you embark on the next phase of your lives.

28.Thank you.

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