Speeches/Interviews

July 26, 2019

Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education, at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgiS) Award Ceremony

1. I am very honoured to be here and join all of you in celebrating this significant milestone for our 138 SgIS scholars. Congratulations to all!

SgIS: Unique Partnership to Build a Singaporean Core of Future Industry Leaders

2. SgIS is a unique collaboration between the Government and industries, established in 2012, the idea was to collectively develop a Singaporean core of industry leaders. It is heartening to see how SgIS has grown over the past 8 years, from the first cohort of 90 scholars to 138 scholars today and this is our largest cohort of awarded scholars to-date! The number of Sponsoring Organisations has also grown from 28 in the first year to 69 this year.

3. This growth would not have been possible without the commitment and support from the Economic Agencies and Sponsoring Organisations. I was told that during the SgIS Orientation Camp held a couple of days ago, some Sponsoring Organisations – PBA Group, Advanced Micro Devices Singapore and One Faber Group, offered site visits to enable scholars to have an inside look into their organisations. In addition, HR leaders from Aztech Technologies, Integrated Health Information Systems, and SIA Engineering Company discussed with the scholars, the values and skillsets required of the 21st century leaders. Such development opportunities and insight are very valuable. There will be many more such development opportunities for you, the scholars, under the SgIS Scholars’ Development and Engagement Programme1 organised by the Economic Agencies and Sponsoring Organisations, which clearly demonstrate their dedication to grooming SgIS industry leaders.

4. I would also like to express our gratitude to the Economic Agencies and Sponsoring Organisations for partnering us on this SgIS journey - in this national endeavour to develop our future industry leaders, enabling Singapore’s growth and anchoring our place as a nation of opportunities for our people!

SgIS: Investing in Our People to Drive Singapore’s Development

5. The world is getting increasingly complex, with a changing global order.

  • The on-going trade conflict between the US and China, and the slowing down of the global economy as forecasted by the IMF signal uncertainties ahead.

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution where new technologies and innovations are changing the nature of businesses and our way of life could disrupt what we are comfortable and familiar with. At the same time, it also presents enormous opportunities if we are able to learn and adapt quickly.

6. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs 2018 report estimated that advanced technologies could result in the loss of 75 million jobs worldwide by 2022. At the same time, up to 133 million new jobs – almost double of what could be lost – might be created by these very same technologies2.

7. What would Singapore’s position be in these circumstances? Where do we go from here? How do we continue to further the growth of our nation?

8. Our approach is to navigate these choppy global waters carefully and to chart a path that creates opportunities for our people.

9. Rather than fear technology, we will leverage it for growth and employment for Singaporeans.

10. We seek to position ourselves as the Global-Asia node, leveraging innovative technologies and connecting people and diverse businesses in Asia and in the world. A key strategy is to invest heavily in our people, both in education of the young and in training of the workforce so that Singaporeans can make the most of the opportunities available. We will harness the diversity of our people as a strength, and enable them to achieve their aspirations and fullest potential. SgIS, being a multi-industry scholarship, is one of the ways in which we are doing this. This can be seen by the stories of Jia Yi and Zhi Feng.

11. After her graduation from Serangoon Junior College, Jia Yi knew where she would head next. She has an avid interest in supply chain management because she was inspired by her aunt who shared accounts of how the work in this sector, though challenging and hectic, was immensely satisfying. Her aunt had to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to handle issues at ports so that goods could be delivered to their destinations on time. Now, this task might seem mundane to you, but Jia Yi’s aunt understood that the smooth delivery of goods would prevent delays, losses and liabilities and this in turn would translate into suppliers’ and recipients’ satisfaction and trust in Singapore’s supply chain management, and she is proud to play a role in this. Having the same sense of purpose as her aunt, and aspiring to enter the industry, Jia Yi enrolled in the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) which offers the Supply Chain Management Course. Today, I am pleased to announce that Jia Yi is one of the first two SUSS students to be awarded the SgIS. Upon graduation, Jia Yi will join ST Logistics, where she will contribute to the supply chain industry.

12. Next, Zhi Feng. Zhi Feng aspires to be an Electrical Engineer. Now, this aspiration had initially seemed impossible to him. 12 years ago, he was retained in secondary school due to unsatisfactory academic performance. He later moved on to ITE where he obtained a NITEC in semiconductor technology. He then progressed to Singapore Polytechnic to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering, or EEE in short, where he developed a passion in the subject of power.

13. Completing his polytechnic studies was no easy feat for Zhi Feng, as he also had to work as an auxiliary police officer at the same time in order to earn the money to pay for his polytechnic tuition fees. Despite the trying time, he was undeterred and pressed on, even mentoring his juniors and contributing as the Vice-President of the EEE Student Ambassador programme in the polytechnic. With the support of SP Group, Zhi Feng will be pursuing a EEE degree in Nanyang Technological University, as a SgIS Full-Term scholar.

14. Jia Yi’s and Zhi Feng’s stories are illustrations of our policy of creating multiple pathways for all to progress and achieve their aspirations, irrespective of background or starting point. There are good jobs in diverse industries and SgIS is a means through which our students can access them.

SgIS: Learning and Re-Learning as Part of Development

15. The SgIS is also a good starting point for you, the award recipients,to fulfil your diverse aspirations and to grow into industry leaders at the same time. This journey will not always be smooth sailing and you must be ready for that. You need to be nimble, adaptable and prepared. You will need to be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn, in order to thrive in a rapidly changing global environment.

16. Chuan Seng, a SgIS Mid-Term Local recipient with MediaTek Singapore, is a good example of someone who has these qualities. For his semester-long attachment, Chuan Seng chose to intern at MediaTek Singapore as he wanted to glean more knowledge in his area of specialisation which is integrated circuit design at the semiconductor giant. At the start of the internship, his mentor, Mr Kevin Bai, Senior Engineer with MediaTek, introduced Chuan Seng to new programming languages, Perl and Verilog, which he had not learnt in university. A self-directed learner, Chuan Seng went through online tutorials to pick up and familiarise himself with these programming languages. He then applied them to his internship assignments, and contributed some automation scripts to enhance the organisation’s productivity, and this resulted in 30% time and effort saved.

17. Chuan Seng’s willingness to take on challenges and to experiment, coupled with his enthusiastic and humble learning attitude impressed his mentor. With the hands-on experience and guidance received, Chuan Seng was able to deepen his technical skills and knowledge via the internship. Upon graduation, he will be contributing back to MediaTek Singapore and embarking on driving Singapore’s semiconductor industry forward.

SgIS: Delivering Positive Social Impact as Future Industry Leaders

18. Through the SgIS, you are fortunate to have multiple pathways to achieve your aspirations. This is because of the hard work of many parties who believe in nurturing youths, who believe in offering opportunities to all regardless of starting points, and who believe in creating a nation of opportunities and a better tomorrow for our people – not just economically but also socially. Don’t take such opportunities for granted. Repay their belief in you by doing well. And then give back and helping others.

19. Alia is a SgIS Mid-Term recipient with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). She believes in giving back. Alia has been an avid volunteer with the Youth Corps for the past 3 years. She makes regular visits to the Moral Home for the Aged to befriend and engage the residents. She also helps to plan engagement activities involving children and the elderly who reside in homes under her school’s volunteer programme. Based on her experience, Alia feels that there is currently a lack of regular volunteers and inadequate awareness on social causes in Singapore and she wants to change this situation. By joining NVPC, she hopes to expand her influence and inspire others to give back to the community as well as enhance the awareness of social issues. I am confident that Alia will be able to fulfil her vision and hope that other SGIS scholars will also contribute back to society.

Conclusion

20. From these few scholars’ stories, you can already see some common SgIS qualities – Jia Yi’s passion to join the dynamic supply chain industry, Zhi Feng’s resilience in overcoming the odds, Chuan Seng’s willingness to constantly learn and improve, and Alia’s heart to contribute to the community.

21. I believe that all the recipients this afternoon have similar positive qualities and am confident that all of you will lead your organisations to do well and to do good, and to bring Singapore forward.

22. I wish all of you the very best. Thank you very much.

Footnotes
  1. SgIS Scholars’ Development and Engagement Programme is a learning and development framework that focuses on development in 3 areas: strategic engagement to broaden the perspectives of scholars through sharing by public and private sector leaders, professional development to develop skills and competencies in the job function through internships and mentorships, and social connection to build friendships and support networks over time.

  2. Mentioned in speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, at Stewardship Asia Roundtable 2019 on 4 Jun 2019