Speeches/Interviews

August 03, 2016

Opening Address by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Acting Minister for Education (Schools) at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship Award Ceremony

1. Good evening. I am delighted to be here with all of you at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) Award Ceremony. Congratulations to each and every one of our recipients on being awarded this scholarship. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the support and guidance of your family, teachers and friends, who are here today to share this memorable occasion with you.

A SPECIAL MILESTONE FOR SGIS

2. Today we not only celebrate a special milestone for our scholarship recipients. We are also celebrating the fifth year milestone of SgIS since its launch in 2012. The objective of SgIS is to develop a core of young Singaporean leaders in key and emerging industry sectors. This has always been and will remain the cornerstone of SgIS. We are building a strong Singaporean core who has deep knowledge of their sectors, with the requisite leadership, business and technical skills to succeed in an increasingly complex and competitive world.

3. Since 2012, the Singapore-Industry Scholarship has been growing its imprint in building a talent pipeline for Singapore’s key strategic sectors and industries. We have awarded a total of 375 scholarships to young Singaporeans over the past years. This year, we are awarding another 82 scholarships. By end 2016, more than 100 scholars would have graduated and entered the workforce. The number of Sponsoring Organisations on-board SgIS has grown from the initial 28 in 2012 to 51 today. It is noteworthy that about half of them have been supporting SgIS since the very beginning! These Organisations hail from 16 industries and offer diverse opportunities to meet young Singaporeans’ interests and career aspirations. I would like to sincerely thank all Sponsoring Organisations for your support, and for sharing the common vision of building a strong Singaporean core.

RICH AND VARIED REAL-LIFE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

4. SgIS has indeed got off on a good start. Whether it will continue to be valued by the Sponsoring Organisations as a valuable talent pipeline, depends on whether we will see you scholars helming the various industries in future. Can you meet the demands of an-ever changing environment? Are you prepared to put in the hard work to learn and improve on the job? Do you have the resilience, perseverance and “can-do” spirit to pull through setbacks and challenges? Do you have the needed leadership skills to lead?

5. I met with some captains of the various industries before the start of this ceremony. I’m heartened to hear from them the positive feedback that our students are growing to be more outward looking, and able to seize opportunities – and even when they come back as interns, to value add to company projects and contribute positively. Their suggestions as interns were taken on board companies in their policies and designs. If you can follow your seniors’ footsteps, I’m sure the value will continue to be there – and grow not just in the academic sphere, but also in the holistic aspect of education.

6. This scholarship is more than just a sponsorship for university education. We focus strongly on inculcating in recipients the right values and attitudes, and developing their perspectives and competencies to excel amidst uncertainties in the global environment and to seize opportunities whenever they arise. We seek to develop in the scholars a habit of continuous learning and improvement through the Scholars’ Development and Engagement Programme.

7. In fact, the development and engagement has already started before this Award Ceremony. At the SgIS Orientation Camp last week, industry experts from our Sponsoring Organisations, GlaxoSmithKline, Micron and National Gallery Singapore shared with the new scholars their personal insights on values and skillsets which are important and relevant for the workplace today.

8. Throughout their studies in university, they will have access to learning and development opportunities via internships with their Sponsoring Organisations to hone their skills and build their knowledge. They will be able to better appreciate what a career in their chosen industry entails and apply what they learn in school on the job. These internships offer real-life learning opportunities and make education a more holistic endeavour. For instance, Singapore Power offers a wide range of learning opportunities (I was told, up to 70 internships a year) and the internships provide insights and a first-hand feel of working in the Power sector. KPMG offers internships in their overseas offices in cities like Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Shanghai to provide global exposure and develop cross-cultural savviness. ST Logistics regularly keeps in touch with their scholars by sending them in-house magazines, e-newsletters and organising tea sessions with their Senior Management. These examples are just some of the many initiatives by our Sponsoring Organisations.

9. Besides industry knowledge, important soft skills such as interpersonal communication, team work, and analytical thinking will be acquired by our scholars, as they learn from their leaders, mentors and colleagues during internships and engagement programmes that they go for. Randolph Ong recently concluded his internship with PSA, and he was tasked to look into optimising the use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) to transport containers in the port. The unmanned AGV are being test-bedded for the mega Tuas Terminal of the future. He witnessed how textbook knowledge of his Maritime Studies course could come to life, albeit with many more complexities and considerations. For instance, he learnt that a high level of planning is needed to ensure timely loading and unloading of vessels, and that factors such as port layout and traffic flow could affect the efficiency of the AGV. To arrive at his hypothesis and recommendations, together with his supervisor, he met colleagues from other departments to obtain feedback on their needs and concerns, and did a presentation on his findings to senior management at the end of his internship. Over the ten-week period, he learnt how to work with other colleagues – to seek and listen to their feedback, how to analyse and evaluate the inputs gathered to derive meaningful outcomes, and how to present his findings and ideas in a convincing manner.

STRONG VALUES BEYOND PAPER ACHIEVEMENTS

10. Beyond academic results, Sponsoring Organisations do look for soft skills, the right values and attitudes when selecting scholars. I will share with you two stories of this year’s SgIS scholars – Lydia and Farid.

11. Unlike other children who could go on overseas immersion trips, Lydia Heng could not do so as her mother is the sole breadwinner and the priority is to provide for the family’s basic needs. To relieve her mother’s financial load, Lydia had been taking on various part-time jobs since she was 14. Besides using the money earned to buy textbooks for her studies, she would also give some allowance to her mother. With the SgIS scholarship, she can now place her focus on pursuing her passion in IT by studying Information Systems at SMU. She is also very excited at her upcoming developmental opportunities with her Sponsoring Organisation, Infineon Technologies, which include internships and mentorship programmes.

12. Muhammad Farid Bin Abdul Rahim is a self-directed learner who takes personal ownership to discover and pursue his interest in Integrated Circuit Design, or IC Design in short. Since his polytechnic days, Farid had always been interested to know more about Electronics. His interest in IC Design, a subset of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was piqued when his professor in NTU shared about a software developed by Linear Technology. Farid took the initiative to try it out to understand how a circuit works. He also attended a course specialisation talk that shared on IC Design, which gave him the impetus to apply for SgIS when he found several IC Design companies on board SgIS. When offered the SgIS, Linear presented Farid with a book called “The Company That No One Leaves” featuring Linear’s unique business model. He finished reading the book quickly. He discovered that Linear’s belief in analog technology and the people-centred company culture strongly resonated with him, and Farid accepted the scholarship offer.

13. Both Lydia and Farid have shown that as long as you have a positive outlook, strong grit and passion to pursue your dreams, you will be able to influence the outcome and attain your desired goals.

NEW SGIS TALENT DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

14. As we move SgIS forward, we will continue to place strong emphasis on the development of the scholars. I am pleased to announce upcoming initiatives in this area. These development initiatives signal the continued commitment of Government and Industry towards providing a holistic and long-term view for talent development.

15. In September, we will be launching the SgIS Leaders’ Forum, which will be a platform for prominent public and private sector leaders to address SgIS scholars to broaden their strategic perspectives and serve as networking opportunities for our scholars. For a start, two Forums will be held each year. I am sure that our SgIS scholars will benefit from the rich insights and be inspired by the life experiences of our prominent speakers to become future industry captains and leaders of their generation. So look out for these and make it a point to come and network and be part of the larger SgIS community. You are an important part of our future economy, and we want you to succeed and be confident about our future, even if we go through difficult patches in our economic restructuring.

16. We will also promote greater sharing of best practices in professional development amongst the SgIS Sponsoring Organisations. These organisations have good talent development initiatives and programmes, and they play a key role in the development of the SgIS scholars. We are creating platforms and guidelines for Sponsoring Organisations to share best practices and to learn from one another. Through this initiative, we hope that the collective wisdom and knowledge from the various SgIS organisations will cross-pollinate and catalyse new ideas for Singapore’s talent development – this will help to enhance the robustness of our industries, and ultimately benefit our scholars and build a stronger Singapore.

CONCLUSION

17. To conclude, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the various stakeholders and thank them for their partnership in this important endeavour of talent development. With the strong support of the Economic Agencies and Sponsoring Organisations, we have built SgIS from scratch to where it is today within a short span of five years. I am sure that with your continued support, SgIS will move to greater heights over the next five years, 10 years, and even more.

18. Once again, congratulations to all our scholarship recipients today. Please continue to seize every opportunity to learn and grow, and contribute back to society even as you reap successes in life. I wish you the very best as you embark on the next stage of your studies and career with your Sponsoring Organisations.

19. Thank you.