Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education, at the Skillsfuture Fellowships and Skillsfuture Employer Awards Ceremony, at Sands Expo and Convention Centre

Published Date: 20 January 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

President Halimah Yacob

My Parliamentary colleague Ms Gan Siow Huang

Mr Ong Tze Chin, CEO of SkillsFuture Singapore

Award Recipients

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I am very happy to be here at the fourth SkillsFuture Fellowships and SkillsFuture Employer Awards ceremony.

2. Let me start by congratulating our 18 SkillsFuture Fellowship and 22 SkillsFuture Employer Award recipients.

3. I would also like thank President Halimah for gracing this ceremony and for your unwavering support as Patron of the Awards. Many thanks to our partners – NTUC, e2i, SBF, SNEF and Workforce Singapore for making this award ceremony possible. All the tripartite partners are on board, and it shows that SkillsFuture is truly a tripartite movement.

4. The past year has been very challenging for all of us. COVID-19 has forced us to fundamentally alter the way we live and work. Companies have had to redouble their pursuit of digitalisation. Many have had to re-think and re-orientate their business models to keep up with structural shifts in consumer behaviours and demands. Employees too, have had to keep pace with these changes, refresh and update their skills, and even take on new job roles.

5. In this very uncertain environment, there is no doubt that the employer who is able to thrive and excel is the one who maintains steadfast commitment towards developing the skills of their workforce.

6. Today, we will be recognising such exemplary employers. You have embodied the SkillsFuture spirit and championed skills development at the workplace, and for some of you, even across the wider workforce within your industry.

7. One such employer is Fong's Engineering and Manufacturing Pte. Ltd. As you saw in the video just now and heard from CEO Jeremy Fong, Fong's Engineering is an SME which strongly believes in building a strong organisational learning culture. It provides support to their employees to undergo training annually to keep them updated with the latest technologies. It has actively leveraged on the Skills Framework for Precision Engineering to identify the skills gaps amongst their employees. It has developed an On-the-Job Training (OJT) curriculum to build a pool of OJT instructors to foster a workplace learning culture.

8. Another SkillsFuture Employer Award recipient, Sembcorp Industries Ltd, drives skills development not just within the company, but across the entire industry. It has established the Sembcorp Academy to provide in-house training for its employees and to raise their technical and leadership competencies. It has shown its commitment to uplift the capabilities of the entire sector. For example, it has conducted solar-related in-house training programmes for smaller industry players and has to-date trained more than 200 industry professionals.

9. I am very encouraged to see a growing number of employers, especially those seated here today, come aboard the SkillsFuture movement. These companies recognise the importance of skills development and are taking active steps to invest in the training of their employees.

10. Under the next bound of SkillsFuture, we will continue to help our employers take ownership of the skills development of their staff and workers. We are partnering with industry leaders, what we call Queen Bee companies, to uplift the capabilities of their respective sectors. We hope that these Queen Bee companies will help to mobilise other employers in their respective sectors or industries to engage in workforce developments. This could involve training beyond your own needs, or aggregating demand across the sector for skills development programmes.

11. We are also strengthening the capabilities of companies to deliver training at the workplace through the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE). We know that a lot of on-the-job training at the workplace is happening, but a lot of it is also done in an ad-hoc and informal manner. NACE provides consultancy services to help companies develop in-house training systems, formalise the training, and in time, will certify these workplace learning capacities. NACE also provides training for workplace trainers. We have set up a few NACE centres all over Singapore, and hope to extend NACE's reach across more companies.

12. One part of the SkillsFuture movement focuses on getting companies on board, but at the same time, individuals also need to proactively upskill and reskill to stay relevant. If there is one lesson that we must learn from this pandemic, it is that we must continue to be prepared for an uncertain and rapidly changing future. We need to update and upgrade the skills and knowledge we learnt in school. New jobs are continually being created, and even existing jobs are likely to change in form and scope, with technological changes. Even as we exhort companies to continue investing in their workforce, it is equally important for all of us as individuals to take ownership of our own learning and continue investing in building up our own skills.

13. The continuous pursuit of skills mastery and the mindset towards lifelong learning is what we hope to inculcate amongst Singaporeans with this SkillsFuture movement.

14. Today, we recognise 18 individuals who have come a long way in their own journey of lifelong learning. Many of them have gone the extra mile to share their knowledge with those around them.

15. One example is 47-year-old Mr Muhammad Hazri Bin Abdul Halil. Hazri started his career as a Trainee Technician in SMRT. Motivated to further deepen his skills, he enrolled in evening classes at the Singapore Polytechnic to pursue a Diploma in Electrical Engineering on a part-time basis. In recognition of his performance at the workplace and the skills that he acquired, he was promoted to an assistant engineer. Now, he is an Engineering Maintenance Manager at the Thomson East Coast Line. He mentors new officers and conducts training for fellow officers in areas such as train maintenance. He is a firm believer that continuous learning can open up doors to many more opportunities in life. I hope his passion for learning and determination to take ownership of his learning needs will inspire more to do the same.

16. Dr Lee Shu Woan, senior consultant at Changi General Hospital, who you saw in the video just now, is another inspiring example. Dr Lee is an accomplished Emergency Medicine veteran. She is an advocate of lifelong learning, actively taking up professional development certification programmes through the span of her career to deepen her own knowledge and skills. She also champions the professional development of nurses and Allied Health Professionals in Changi General Hospital. As you saw just now, she has stepped up as a mentor, and she has made full use of technical and technological tools to refresh clinical education. This has contributed towards enhancing patient care and improving efficiency of their work processes. She also supports the training of aspiring medical professionals at various institutions by generously sharing her clinical knowledge, her skills, and experience.

17. I hope that both their stories will inspire more of us to embrace lifelong learning as a way of life.

18. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with many challenges and it has certainly tested our adaptability and resilience. While the timeline for recovery remains uncertain, we already know that the pandemic has impacted our way of life, and the world going forward will never quite be the same again.

19. As we work towards this new normal, this new post-COVID world, I encourage all of us to draw inspiration from today's award winners who have shown a passion for lifelong learning, the continuous pursuit of skills mastery and excellence, and the willingness to adapt and prepare for change. These are evergreen traits that will stand us in good stead, regardless of what challenges await us in the future.

20. On that note, once again, I would like to thank Madam President and all our partners here for your very strong support of our SkillsFuture movement. Congratulations once again to our SkillsFuture Fellowship and SkillsFuture Employer Award recipients. Thank you very much.

Share this article: