Speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower, Ms Low Yen Ling, at the Tourism Career Fair 2019, at Auditorium 1, Auditorium Foyer, Temasek Polytechnic

Published Date: 15 November 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Peter Lam, Principal and CEO, Temasek Polytechnic,

Ms Karen Ann Leong, Chief, The Collaboratory, Singapore Tourism Board,

Industry partners,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our students from all five polytechnics and ITE,

Good morning.

1. I am very happy to be back here at Temasek Polytechnic. Thank you for inviting me to join you here again at the Tourism Career Fair. Today, I have the pleasure of witnessing the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and a Letter of Agreement (LOA) to enhance our students' learning through internship placements and learning journeys, as well as provide opportunities for staff attachments. So, attachments are not just for students, but for staff as well because we think it is important to have a revolving door to allow staff to immerse themselves in the industry, keep pace with the changes there, and then return to the polytechnics and ITE to teach our students.

2. The global economy is at a crossroads with unpredictable geo-political tensions and significant technological disruptions. The trade war between China and the US has seemingly eased, but remains unresolved. Uncertainty over Brexit continues, and Asia's growth has slowed. In fact, during the Prime Minister's National Day Rally speech this year, he cautioned that the world is entering "troubled times", and Singapore, being a small and open economy, is certainly not immune.

3. Having said that, despite the global economic downturn, we can be proud that Singapore's tourism industry has continued to grow. Today, it contributes around 4% of our GDP and provides more than 60,000 jobs within its core industries. We are very fortunate to have benefitted from a confluence of various factors, including strong Asia-Pacific travel demand and increased flight connectivity to Singapore. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to continue to refresh our tourism offerings and build stronger capabilities in our tourism sector to ensure good job opportunities for you, our youths, and Singaporeans, and to maintain Singapore's attractiveness as a tourist destination.

4. Looking ahead, the two Integrated Resorts will invest a total of S$9 billion in their expansion plans and create up to 5,000 additional new jobs. Marina Bay Sands will introduce a new 15,000-seater entertainment arena, and Universal Studios Singapore will be expanding to include a Super Nintendo World and a Minion Park. Sentosa has also announced long-term plans to reshape the resort island and the adjacent Pulau Brani into a premier leisure and tourism destination, which will create a lot of jobs. Jurong Lake District will also be revitalised, with the beautiful Jurong Lake Gardens, a new Science Centre and an integrated tourism development. Jurong Lake Gardens, which was only opened for about seven months, is 90 hectares big, equivalent to 130 football fields. We have committed so much greenery because we know that it will be another integrated tourism development, one that students can possibly have interesting internships or even job opportunities. With these exciting developments in the pipeline, we can certainly look forward to more promising, interesting, and dynamic job opportunities for you, our students, and Singaporeans.

Tourism Transformation – Navigating Changes and Advancements

5. Even as these moves enhance Singapore's appeal as a tourist destination or even for Singaporeans who are looking for staycations, the tourism industry must continue to transform and create greater value. In particular, it is critical for industry partners to leverage technology to seize opportunities for achieving sustainable growth. Today, there is a wide array of digital tools that allow our industry partners to create better and more memorable experiences for visitors. For example, the ArtScience Museum's permanent digital art gallery, Future World, features 16 cutting-edge immersive digital installations. This has transformed the traditional museum experience by allowing visitors to interact with the artworks and participate in the dynamically evolving art pieces. And this is what we mean by providing new experiences to the visitors so that they will visit Singapore again and again with their loved ones.

6. The industry has been very innovative, leveraging digital tools not just to improve the tourist experience. In fact, digital tools can also transform business operations for greater efficiency, to ensure that jobs become more exciting and more interesting. For instance, in the hotel sector, Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford have adopted an adaptable robotic cart, known as the Thouzer Trolley. This trolley is not your normal trolley; it helps employees move heavy loads of up to 300kg each for banquet events, which means that the banquet staff can now focus on customer experience. We can use Augmented Reality and digital tools to make labourious tasks more efficient and effective. With so many technological solutions at our disposal today, it is critical for tourism industry players to review their business operations regularly and identify processes where smart technology deployment can improve productivity and efficiency.

7. Many of us might have read reports about technology and might have negative connotations about it – for instance, how it will remove certain jobs. Actually, technology can create new jobs that we have not heard of today. For example, ten years ago, you would not have heared of UX or user experience. But new and more interesting jobs will be created. Technology can also make routine jobs more efficient and more interesting. Coupling technology advantage with job redesign efforts, which is what the hotel industry has been working hard on, will certainly free up more time and energy for the employees to focus on more value-added tasks, such as guest engagement. This will help with staff retention and customer experience. One example is that more hotels have moved away from the face-to-face check-in at the front-desk, to check-in kiosks. However, it does not mean that you do not see anyone. Instead, the friendly face is next to you and not behind the desk, asking you about your itinerary and even making suggestions to make your itinerary more interesting.

8. We are confident that as the industry comes together with greater technology adoption, the nature of jobs in the tourism sector will continue to evolve and become more intersting. I want to assure you that the Government, not just STB, but the various Ministries, will continue to support our tourism workforce by equipping them with industry-relevant skills and emerging competencies to help them stay relevant, to future-proof themselves and to thrive in the changing landscape. Last year, we launched the Skills Framework for Tourism, which aims to promote skills mastery and lifelong learning so that people who join the sector are better prepared for the future economy. Based on this Skills framework, our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) – polytechnics, ITE, and universities, have developed many training programmes to cater to new industry demands, including courses in emerging fields such as the digitalisation of business operations and even curation of bespoke customer experience. Ten years ago, you wouldnot have heared about curation of bespoke customer experience and that is a real job now!

Industry Collaborations

9. Our IHLs have also been actively engaging the industry to enhance the learning experience of our students. Today, we will witness the signing of two MOUs and an LOA between the polytechnics, ITE and three industry partners. The 3 industry partners are: Genting Cruise Lines, a global leader in luxury travel and hospitality; SingEx Holdings, a company that has played an integral role in the development of the exhibition and events industry in Singapore; and Kidzania, one of the fastest growing global learning and entertainment brands in the world – thank you all for your partnerships. The partnerships to be sealed today are testament to how our IHLs continually strengthen their industry collaborations. The cooperation also underscores the industry's commitment to augment our students' learning and enable IHL staff to refresh and enhance their industry knowledge.

10. Through these partnerships, students and staff will gain first-hand knowledge and experience of the MICE, Travel and Attractions sectors. By joining hands, industry partners will also benefit by gaining access to students who may be part of the tourism industry workforce in the near future. Furthermore, companies can leverage on our institutions to test-bed digitalisation of business operations, collate data for business analytics and develop projects with staff and students to curate customer experiences. This partnership is indeed a win-win situation for all parties – it is beneficial for students, staff, lecturers, and companies as well.

Tourism Career Fair

11. I would like to thank the representatives from the polytechnics and ITE, industry partners, SkillsFuture Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board for your continued support of the Tourism Career Fair. I understand that this year, an 'Ideathon' has also been planned in collaboration with Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Twenty teams from the IHLs have been formed and they will put on their thinking caps to create innovative solutions to ensure that our local attractions continue to deliver interactive experiences. So do not belittle your efforts today. For all you know, the idea that is germinated today via the Ideathon, will translate into fruition and become a game-changing experience in our local attractions.

12. I encourage all our students here today to participate fully in the programmes available and visit the career booths to discover the myriad of opportunities that the tourism sector has to offer. I believe that this career fair is an excellent platform for you to find out where your interests may lie. Some of you may like to do back-of-the-house operations, business operations, marketing, or digital – the tourism sector is huge, and there is something for everyone. So try to stay open-minded, and glean insights into the tourism sector and potential career opportunities. To our partners, thank you for your participation and I hope that you will take this chance to actively engage our bright students, network amongst the industry, and exchange ideas to help transform the tourism industry and keep Singapore at the forefront of international tourism. On this note, I wish you all the best in your learning journey – be open and stay challenged.

Thank you.

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