Speech by Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State, Ministry of Education, at the Launch of the Temasek Polytechnic Smart E-Commerce Centre at Temasek Polytechnic

Published Date: 19 July 2021 02:00 PM

News Speeches

Mr Ong Tze-Ch'in, Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore,

Mr Tan Kai Hoe, Member, TP Board of Governors and Chairman, Business School Advisory Committee

Mr Peter Lam, Principal, Temasek Polytechnic,

Colleagues

Teachers, students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

1. A very good morning to all. Thank you for inviting me to join you on this special occasion. It is my second time in Temasek Polytechnic (TP), and I am always impressed by the innovation and the high level of energy of teachers and students here.

Changing Consumer Behaviour and the Rise of E-Commerce and Digitalisation in Businesses

2. The COVID-19 situation has fundamentally altered the world as we know it – changing the way we think and live, and even impacting our lifestyle, including how we purchase products that we need. For example, since the Circuit Breaker period last year, many producers and consumers found themselves turning to e-commerce to sell and purchase goods. Unable to rely on physical footfall, companies were forced to rethink and revamp the way they conduct their business. Many companies responded by fast-tracking the digitalisation of their customer and supply chain interactions, their internal operations, and the adoption of e-commerce and digital technologies.

3. It may sound very logical to many of us – adaptation to evolving situations. But after interacting with many business owners, I have also grown to recognise that it is really easier said than done. It takes many steps to be able to make the changes. Along the way, the changes may not be smooth and often, it is a discovery through trial and error. I am glad that TP has initiated this to help businesses to transform.

4. The shift towards e-commerce was already well under way even before COVID-19. However, COVID-19 has clearly accelerated the pace of change, and underlined the need for businesses to continually innovate to stay competitive. And as companies pursue business transformation, it is essential that they concurrently invest in upskilling their workers. Process digitalisation and technology adoption provides at best only half the solution. The other half that must not be overlooked lies in equipping our workforce with the necessary skills to make use of these technologies. Only by pursuing these twin thrusts in tandem, can businesses ensure that they are in the best position to capture the emerging opportunities in this evolving environment.

The Smart E-Commerce Centre

5. In the retail sector, the Temasek Polytechnic Smart E-commerce Centre that we are launching today sits perfectly at the nexus of these twin thrusts.

6. The Centre will allow TP students taking E-commerce modules to gain knowledge and skills in retail digitalisation, through its omnichannel facility and integrated digital ecosystems. Students will also be exposed to various equipment and software, including inventory management, accounting management and digital marketing, to deepen their appreciation of how technology is integrated in business operations, and of vertical and horizontal business functions. This valuable experience and exposure in an authentic learning environment enhances their employability, and even prepares them to become entrepreneurs in this field.

7. At the same time, the Smart E-commerce Centre will also serve as a platform for TP to support businesses and entrepreneurs in trialling novel business concepts and testing of new products. It will help SMEs experience how digital technologies within an omnichannel business environment can transform their business, and support the implementation of technology in their companies. One of the interesting concepts that the centre showcases is an unmanned business model, which I think will be increasingly common in our everyday life.

8. I am particularly heartened that TP plans to offer training not just for its students but also adult learners, in areas such as digital business strategy, retail logistics, e-commerce management and merchandising. With the continually evolving environment, it is essential that our workforce continues to deepen such high-value skills across their career lifetime, so that we continue to strengthen the business ecosystem. Studies have shown that when companies invest in their employees, they also grow their revenue by becoming better at attracting and retaining talent. Hence, there is every reason for our companies to support the upskilling of their employees, and I hope to see strong employer demand for such courses.

Skillsfuture Month 2021

9. The Smart E-Commerce Centre embodies the spirit of lifelong learning and adaptability to changes, which we are celebrating during the SkillsFuture Month from now to 22 August 2021. The SkillsFuture Month offers a wide range of learning events and activities for individuals from all walks of life. At the upcoming SkillsFuture@CDC, participants will be able to learn from experts on job-search skills, critical core skills and industry insights. Recent graduates can also look forward to the SkillsFuture Work-Study Fair, which will showcase work-study opportunities as well as the strong industry partnerships that underpin the work-study eco-system. Some of the courses that will be showcased include those offered at the Smart E-Commerce Centre, as well as those of our partners. I encourage everyone to take part actively in the SkillsFuture Month events.

Closing

10. With that, I would like to congratulate TP on the launch of the Smart E-Commerce Centre, with support from SkillsFuture Singapore. The set-up of the Centre is timely and relevant for the future economy, and I am glad that TP's students and alumni, industry partners, and the broader Singaporean population will be able to benefit from the multitude of training opportunities offered.

11. Thank you.

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