Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry, and Ministry of Education at the Offical Opening of Q & M College of Dentistry

Published Date: 17 October 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you this afternoon to witness the opening of the Q & M College of Dentistry.

2. Q & M started its first dental clinic at Bukit Batok in 1996 with a vision to provide quality and affordable dental care. This vision is captured in its name “Quan Ming” (全民), which means “for all the people” in Mandarin. Fast forward to today, Q & M is one of the largest private dental healthcare groups in Singapore. It operates an extensive network of over 70 dental clinics locally, supported by its dental supplies and equipment distribution companies, and its in-house dental laboratories.

3. Recognising the growing demand in the region for quality dental care, Q & M has been expanding its business in Asia. The company has been working on partnerships in China, where it has investments in various dental businesses, such as dental hospitals, training centres, and manufacturing plants. In fact, I have met Dr Ng on several occasions in China during these business missions to the market. Closer to home, the company has almost 30 dental outlets so far across several states in Malaysia, and other parts of the region.

4. Q & M’s ambition to grow its regional footprint over the years is commendable, especially since it is not easy to run a healthcare services company across different markets. The Government recognises companies with good plans to grow, and we want to continue to support these efforts. One such initiative, that Q & M is participating in, is Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Scale-up SG programme, where selected local companies, are identified and groomed for accelerated expansion. This is done with the hope that they will grow, scale up, and become leaders in their fields, contribute to Singapore’s economy and create more jobs for Singaporeans.

5. As part of the programme, ESG is working with Q & M, alongside McKinsey and other programme partners to develop and implement strategies to deepen their overseas market presence and embark on innovation to sharpen their competitive edge. Fundamental to this is the ability to groom, attract and retain talent to help the company achieve its plans. As you grow, you need people, and you need to be able to train people not just in hard skills, but also to have the right ethics and values. As such, Q & M intends to improve the recruitment and onboarding experience of new employees, and to strengthen engagement with existing employees.

6. The establishment of the Q & M College of Dentistry is part of this important talent development strategy. The College will provide dentists with continuing education and training opportunities to keep up-to-date with current needs, deepen their skills in the field, and better serve their patients. In this age of swift technological advancements, continuous upskilling and reskilling are necessary for our workforce to stay relevant in the future economy. This applies to all sectors – be it dentists, engineers, lawyers, or retail – this applies to all sectors; we need to continuously reskill and upskill.

7. That is why SkillsFuture as a movement is even more relevant today than before. Through SkillsFuture, we have developed an ecosystem of lifelong learning to help our people remain relevant to industry needs throughout their careers, not just in school. We have made some good progress thus far and more individuals are recognising the importance and value of lifelong learning, but we are still at an early stage of the SkillsFuture movement.

8. Employers too, have an important role to play in nurturing this culture of lifelong learning, by investing in skills upgrading for their employees. In fact, my belief is that skills upgrading and enterprise transformation have to take place hand in hand - as we transform our enterprises, we also upskill our workers. Q & M has recognised the importance of investing in skills development to support the growth of your business, and I am heartened that you will intensify efforts to do so through this College.

9. On top of training its own employees, we also hope that the larger companies can help value-add to the whole sector’s development. Learning from other countries like Switzerland, where companies train for the sector, we hope to work with larger companies in Singapore to develop training interventions, and train beyond companies’ immediate needs for the wider sector. This will help to uplift smaller enterprises that do not have the capacity or capabilities to embark on similarly rigorous training programmes for their own employees. The opening of this College of Dentistry is an excellent example of Q & M Group’s role in supporting not only their dentists, but also the wider dental industry in upskilling and navigating the rapidly evolving dental landscape. I would like to thank Q & M for your efforts in supporting workforce upgrading for the industry.

10. By doing this, Q & M is serving the wider community, but at the same time, also benefitting your own company. Through these efforts, you establish yourself as a good employer, and at the same time build a pipeline of talent, which will help the whole industry to grow. We often encourage our companies to see each other not just as competitors in Singapore, but to work together to grow a pipeline for us to expand overseas, so that we can do better as Singapore.

11. As Dr Ng mentioned, Q & M is also giving out scholarships today to nine NUS students from the Faculty of Dentistry. I would like to commend Q & M for taking the initiative to support our students in pursuing their dreams. Congratulations also to the students who will be receiving their scholarships today! The Chinese have a saying – “取自社会,用至社会,回馈社会” – which means, “We take from society, and return to society”. I think this is something that Dr Ng believes in strongly, and this is one way that he is giving back to society.

Conclusion

12. We want to encourage more companies with the ambition to grow, to continue to build their capabilities, innovate and explore new markets, much as Q & M has. This will play a part in strengthening Singapore’s economy, creating jobs for our people, and expanding Singapore’s presence overseas. And this is a strength where Singapore can make a positive difference to the region – we can help in areas such as capabilities development and training, where people recognise the Singapore brand stands for quality, credibility and trust.

13. Once again, congratulations to Q & M for the official opening of its first dental college in Singapore. I wish you the very best!

Thank you.

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