Speech by Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Second Minister for Education at the Temasek Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony 2021

Published Date: 03 May 2021 10:00 AM

News Speeches

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

Mr Peter Lam, Principal & CEO, Temasek Polytechnic

Members of Temasek Polytechnic Board of Governors and School of Informatics & IT Advisory Committee

Parents and family members

Graduands

1. A very good morning to all of you. To the graduands from the School of Informatics & IT and the polytechnic-level award winners from the various schools gathered here today, congratulations on the completion of your diploma studies at Temasek Polytechnic!

2. This day also belongs to your family, teachers and friends, who have stood by you during your journey. Though some of them cannot be with us physically today, I know that they are all very proud of your achievements, and that many of them are joining us virtually too. Let us put our hands together to thank them for their unwavering support.

Resilience in the Midst of Change

3. At the start of the pandemic, no one could have predicted the extent that COVID-19 would disrupt our lives and the economy. Just when we thought that things were looking good as we prepare ourselves to open up more, the recent spike in community cases is a grim reminder that this virus is not letting up that easily. We must then not let our guard down either. We must be prepared to adjust quickly and prevent the situation from worsening. Our experiences in the past year have taught us much.

4. For graduating students like yourselves, you have had to adjust to many changes in learning, not least your internship experiences. Many of you have experienced first-hand how companies adapted their operations and in some cases, pivoted their business models, to stay relevant in times of uncertainty.

5. Radhi Priya, from the Diploma in Business Intelligence & Analytics, is one of the graduands from the Class of 2021. Like many of you, Radhi's internship took place during the peak of the pandemic last year. She interned remotely with Path Infotech, a data analytics company based in Australia, and worked with colleagues in Australia and India. Priya had to manage her time carefully to meet deadlines across different time zones. She also had to navigate different working styles across different cultures.

6. Priya's experience was deeply enriching, and I am sure it has prepared her well for the global workplace of the future, where cross-cultural sensitivity and the ability to toggle between different social contexts is critical to success. Most of you would have had similar experiences. Although an in-person internship would have opened up many interesting experiences and learning opportunities, what many of you experienced last year is equally valuable for the next phase of your life.

COVID-19 – Bringing Out the Best in Us

7. When we headed into the Circuit Breaker in April last year, we moved all our lessons online and contended with strict measures to limit social interactions and break the spread of the virus. All of us experienced some degree of stress and anxiety, brought about by the new restrictions on how we live, work and play.

8. But this crisis has brought out the best in us, individually and collectively. I am heartened that the TP community quickly rallied together to support one another through this period. To share just one example, student leaders from the Applied Science Studies Club came together to organise a virtual mental health awareness event for their peers during the Circuit Breaker period. Conducted in collaboration with TP's counsellors, the event shared practical tips on how to build up mental resilience, and how to keep a look out for one another.

9. Over the course of 2020, TP has progressively expanded its peer supporter training, and I hear many students have stepped up to get trained, to help keep a look out for their friends and classmates who might be experiencing challenges. Today, TP has more than 800 trained peer supporters, and the number continues to grow. TP has also been proactive in leveraging technology to strengthen mental well-being support. In August 2020, TP launched "Wysa", which includes a chatbot which serves as an additional support for students. Accessible 24/7 and anonymous, Wysa features useful resources for our students on mental well-being and self-care.

10. TP also launched the Campus Care Network Special Crisis Fund in April 2020, to support students whose families were facing financial challenges due to the crisis. To date, about $38,000 has been disbursed from this fund, benefitting close to 100 students. So well done, TP.

11. I am immensely heartened by the TP family's efforts. I know it took a concerted effort from so many of you, both students and staff, to bring about these changes that will benefit the campus community for years to come. Well done everyone, and I am confident you will continue to build on this very strong start.

Making a Difference in an Uncertain World

12. As graduates in the ICT field, you are well placed to seize many new and exciting opportunities in the future economy. Despite the overall contraction in the economy in 2020, the ICT sector has continued to grow, with many good jobs coming on stream to support and drive digital transformation across industries.

13. Let me share two examples of your peers who have managed to seize opportunities presented by the pandemic. Jordan Lim Zi Rui, from the Diploma in Information Technology, was part of a team that worked with the State Courts to develop an online pre-assessment tool to help individuals determine if they were eligible to seek relief from their contractual obligations under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. The tool helped the Courts better manage the volume of requests, and ensure timely support for those in need. For his contributions, Jordan was awarded the Outstanding Court Volunteer Award by the State Courts.

14. Another example is Muhammad Hannan bin Mohamed Hassan, from the Diploma in Big Data Management & Governance. During his internship at Changi General Hospital, he helped develop an analytics dashboard that showed at a glance the summary of medical data relevant to each warded patient. The dashboard provided timely information that helped the hospital deliver more targeted patient care, and helped reduce the time taken to respond to patients' needs.

15. Hannan's and Jordan's experiences are not unique to them. With the strong foundation built up over your time in TP, I am confident that each of you is in a good position to leverage your training to think of new and better ways of doing things, step up to solve real-life challenges around you, and make positive contributions to society.

Lifelong Learning for Continued Relevance

16. While you have completed your diploma course at TP, this is simply the start of your lifelong learning journey. In a rapidly evolving world, being able to respond and adapt to changes will be key. I encourage all of you to remain curious and to continually learn over the course of your careers.

17. TP has taken the first step in supporting you on this journey through the Career Kick-starter package, which includes career coaching services, access to a curated list of employment opportunities, incubation and funding support for budding entrepreneurs, and free courses for those who wish to upskill. Introduced in 2020, the Career Kick-starter has enabled over 60 graduates from the Class of 2020 to secure short-term jobs, in areas ranging across different fields such as IT services, Engineering and Finance. Another 200 have applied to take up free courses to deepen their skills or branch out into new areas. This is an encouraging response, and I am glad that TP will extend the package to the Class of 2021 as well. I hope all of you will make full use of these opportunities to maintain your competitive edge in the workplace. As you advance through your careers, know that your alma mater will continue to support you in this lifelong learning journey to upgrade your skills.

18. The Government will also continue to support all Singaporeans through initiatives like the SG United Jobs and Skills Package. As of February 2021, more than 13,600 jobseekers have been placed into jobs, company-hosted traineeships and attachments, as well as training opportunities in the ICT sector. There remains over 18,000 of these jobs and skills opportunities on offer. The SG United Traineeships scheme, which provides recent graduates opportunities to gain industry-relevant work experience, has also been extended till March 2022. From April 2021, training allowances for diploma graduates like yourselves have also been increased. I encourage all of you to remain optimistic, and be ready to seize these opportunities.

19. One example of a TP graduate who is committed to lifelong learning is Eunice Kwang, an alumna from the School of Informatics & IT who graduated in 2016 with a Diploma in Business Intelligence & Analytics. Eunice joined Accenture as a Software Engineer Associate after graduation, while concurrently taking up TP's Specialist Diploma in Big Data & Analytics in TP. She subsequently pursued a part-time degree in Cybersecurity at the National University of Singapore, which allowed her to successfully pivot to emerging opportunities in the field. Today, Eunice oversees work ranging from development to production of software updates, ensuring each new software release is deployed successfully and safely.

20. Eunice's experience underscores the importance and value of lifelong learning. I hope each and every one of you will similarly rise to the challenge, and continue to refresh your skills and pick up new competencies to stay relevant.

21. As you reflect on your educational journey so far, I believe you will take with you cherished memories of the bonds built during your time in TP. Stay connected to the alumni network and maintain close ties with the TP community. As you step into the next phase of your life, may the road ahead be filled with exciting, meaningful and rewarding opportunities. I am confident that TP has prepared you well for this.

22. Once again, to the Class of 2021, congratulations on your graduation and I wish you all the very best in the future.

23. Thank you.

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