Speeches/Interviews

August 02, 2018

Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Education at The Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) Award Ceremony

Friends, colleagues, industry partners

Parents and scholarship recipients,

1. I’m delighted to be here today to join you in celebrating the significant milestone for our 128 SgIS scholars, and congratulations to all of you.

SgIS: Building a Singaporean Core of Future Industry Leaders

2. SgIS was established in 2012, in partnership with our industries, to collectively develop and groom a Singaporean core of industry leaders. I am heartened to see that the scheme has been growing, from the initial 28 Sponsoring Organisations to the current 67 organisations, and our 128-strong cohort of award recipients this year which is the largest to date.

3. Why did we start the SgIS? Why do we continue to bring more companies from various industries to partner us year after year? Why are we committed to growing the SgIS community?

4. Because we want to provide opportunities to our youths to fulfil their aspirations; because we want to grow our economy by anchoring a range of key industries in Singapore. More importantly, because we want to secure Singapore’s position in the world, and ensure that Singapore continues to be a nation of opportunities for our people.

5. With the rise of China and India, the economic centre of gravity is shifting to Asia, with IMF projecting that Asia will lead the global growth at an average rate of about 6.4% from now till 2023. ASEAN is expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2% from 2018 to 2022.

6. These trends bode well for Singapore. In the next phase of our development, Singapore seeks to position itself as the Global-Asia node, essentially meaning that we should be at the centre of all the economic activities that are happening in the region. We want to leverage new technologies and innovations. We want to, connect people and businesses in Asia and in the global world.

7. To achieve this, we need to be open to new ideas, build up our own talent pool, be welcoming of talent and investments, to drive and support this growth and development. SgIS, being a multi-industry scholarship focussing on developing a strong core of Singaporean leaders across various industries, puts us in a good position to achieve this.

Building a Singaporean Core in Strategic Economic Sectors

8. The SgIS encompasses many Sponsoring Organisations which spreads across 16 industry sectors; many of which are covered under the Industry Transformation Maps (ITM) that seek to adopt an industry-centred approach in restructuring and growing the different industries.

9. For instance, the Logistics sector ITM is expected to achieve a value add of S$8.3 billion, and serves to reinforce Singapore’s position as a global leading logistics hub. Another key sector of growth is the electronics industry which accounted for 4.4% of Singapore’s GDP, with S$90 billion in manufacturing output and employment of about 70,000 in 2016. Further growth in the electronics industry is expected with the emergence of new application areas such as autonomous vehicles, and proliferation of mobile devices.

10. These are interesting developments that await you as you embark on your SgIS journey to work in these exciting environments, and contribute to your Sponsoring Organisations’ and Singapore’s growth. This journey will not be easy, especially when there could be many challenges not yet foreseen. You need to be prepared – to keep learning, to continuously upgrade your skills and to build new knowledge.

Developing Skills and Strengthening SgIS Network

11. Marilyn, a SgIS recipient with SP Group, has done just that. Marilyn has chosen to specialise in Power in Ngee Ann Polytechnic as she was electrified by the sense of accomplishment when her first power circuit worked. She chose to take up a 6-month internship with SP Group, and eventually ended up extending her internship to 10 months, because she really enjoyed the learning and exposure she received in SP Group.

12. During her internship, Marilyn was rotated to 4 different teams, getting exposure to various operations and was able to learn from her colleagues on tackling issues in real time such as cable maintenance and replacement. She went on site with engineers and technicians, and was involved in a time motion study productivity where she recorded timings and learnt to plot and analyse the data. No task is ever too small for Marilyn. To her, all these experiences allow her to deepen her skills and cemented her desire to work in SP Group. With the support of SP Group, Marilyn would continue to acquire more knowledge via pursuing Electrical Engineering at National University of Singapore and to build on her skills during her future internships.

13. I was told that internships with your Sponsoring Organisations is a compulsory component of the SgIS Scholars’ Development and Engagement Programme, and this is so for a good reason as there is much that you can learn and be exposed to during your internships.

14. One of the SgIS alumni, Tan Peh Yu, had the chance to intern at one of KPMG’s overseas offices during his undergraduate period. Through his internship, Peh Yu gained a deeper understanding of his personal career aspirations and also gained a better sense of cultural sensitivities.

15. Indeed, building up cross-cultural skills and literacies, and broadening your knowledge of the region is important, as you will then be able to better contribute to your Sponsoring Organisations, many of which have business operations, not only in Singapore, but also in the region and beyond. It will be very difficult to get a regional designation unless you have regional experience. For Peh Yu, the overseas internship has better prepared him for work with colleagues and clients of different backgrounds, and I am glad to know that he had also shared his experiences with SgIS juniors during a sharing session organised by the SgIS Scholars’ EXCO, to encourage more to broaden their horizons and develop cross-cultural skills.

Building Singaporean Leaders in Social Sectors

16. Besides the economic sectors, SgIS also grooms leaders for the social sectors. While we are strategically located within a region of strong growth potential, there are many domestic developments that need to be managed well, because they pose challenges to our social cohesion. One key challenge for Singapore is an ageing population that is not replacing itself, leading to a shrinking working population, coupled with heavier demands on our healthcare and social security systems.

17. In addition, we have to continue to tackle the social inequalities within our society and open up multiple progression pathways, so that there will be ample opportunities for all Singaporeans, regardless of their starting points, and the fruits of our economic development will be enjoyed by all Singaporeans.

18. These are not easy issues to deal with. We need good leaders in the social sector who show empathy and humility to the challenges faced by the different strata of the society, and to come up with innovative solutions to resolve them. I am heartened to note that Liang Kuang and Laila, two of the SgIS recipients this year, display these qualities.

19. Coming from a humble background, Liang Kuang said that he felt “lucky” that the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) card had helped to relieve some of the financial costs for his family whenever any of his family members fell ill. Thus, he has taken up SgIS specifically with MOH Holdings so that he can play a part in addressing the national challenge on providing affordable healthcare to families like his own.

20. Another SgIS recipient, Laila, has been volunteering since her secondary school days, tutoring children from underprivileged or single-parent families, and being a listening companion to them. Having identified herself as coming from a similar background, Laila feels the need to demonstrate to the children that they can rise above their trying circumstances, and that there are opportunities to succeed and fulfil one’s potential. With this in mind, she seeks a career with the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) which could help her to realise her vision.

Conclusion

21. As we welcome another class of scholars to the SgIS community today, I would like to register my appreciation of the efforts of the various stakeholders – the Economic Agencies, Sponsoring Organisations, and scholars, for believing in SgIS and being part of SgIS. I can see in all of you, the SgIS spirit - the passion to drive industries, the heart to contribute to society, and the sense of stewardship to bring Singapore forward.

22. Ultimately, what we want is to strengthen Singapore to benefit our people, especially our future generations. It is assuring to see the collective efforts put into developing a strong Singaporean core of industry leaders who will step up to steer our industries and serve our community and country.

23. So, let us keep the SgIS spirit burning strong. Thank you very much.