Opening Address by Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State, Ministry of Education, at the ICDL Asia Digital Literacy Day 2021

Published Date: 09 September 2021 06:00 PM

News Speeches

His Excellency Patrick Bourne, Irish Ambassador to Singapore

Mr Damien O'Sullivan, CEO, ICDL Foundation

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to join you at the ICDL Asia Digital Literacy Day 2021.

2. Technology has transformed the way we live, work, learn and play.

3. Though the pandemic has presented many challenges, it has also catalysed a shift towards tapping on digital technologies to find solutions. The organising of virtual events and meetings is a good example. As a result of travel restrictions, event organisers and companies have had to pivot towards virtual events quickly and figure out ways for the show to go on, tapping on digital tools and platforms. This has enabled us to transcend borders and effortlessly hold virtual gatherings, like this one. These creative solutions would not be possible without the use of technology. Even when we return to in-person events, it is likely that the virtual component will be here to stay.

4. As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man. We must continue to innovate and build on our skills so we can keep up with the latest developments and reap the benefits of technology.

5. The Singapore Government is committed to providing opportunities for Singaporeans of all ages to be better equipped with digital capabilities. These include programmes for students in our education institutions, as well as initiatives to support working adults in their lifelong learning pursuits.

6. The Ministry of Education launched the National Digital Literacy Programme to help students acquire digital skills through each stage of their education journey. For example, students experience simple coding through the 'Code for Fun' programme at the primary school level. In our secondary schools, they learn computational thinking through Mathematics and will each own a Personal Learning Device to ensure that they are equipped for digital learning. Interested students can also join technology-related Co-Curricular Activities or take up Computing as a subject at O-Level and A-Level.

7. Our Institutes of Higher Learning have also enhanced their curriculum to strengthen baseline digital competencies for all students, such as in computational thinking and data analysis. Students at the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education are taught Artificial Intelligence (AI)-related topics. For students training in sectors ripe for AI adoption such as manufacturing, finance, logistics, and cybersecurity, they will be equipped with higher proficiencies in AI competencies.

8. This October, the Singapore University of Technology and Design will launch new FinTech courses with TechFin, a subsidiary of PolicyPal. To ensure industry relevance, TechFin will help develop and deliver the course content. ICDL Asia has also worked closely with Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic to offer ICDL programmes to adult learners and students who are looking to obtain an additional international certification in ICT.

9. Learning does not stop within the four walls of an education institution. As more industries emphasise automation, there is growing demand for highly-skilled labour to support the adoption of new technologies. Upskilling of the workforce is central to support Singapore in the next phase of growth.

10. Under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative that was launched in 2016, co-led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore, various programmes are offered to individuals to upgrade and acquire new skills. These include place and train programmes in areas such as AI, Cyber Security, 5G and Cloud Computing, so that more can be placed into tech jobs. For workers who require additional support to bridge the digital skills gap, we launched the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme to equip them with foundational digital skills.

11. I am heartened that ICDL Asia has worked with government and industry partners and has also expanded its programme offerings to focus more on emerging technologies.

12. Building a competitive workforce is a collective effort by many stakeholders, including students, educators, and industry partners in both the public and private sector. I am glad to witness ICDL Asia's growing commitment to this cause through its programme outreach to empower students and adult learners.

13. I encourage everyone here to continue to seize the opportunities that digitalisation has afforded us and continue to refresh our digital skills. I would like to wish all our participants a meaningful discussion, and extend my congratulations to the winners of the ICDL Digital Challenge 2021. Thank you.

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