Speeches/Interviews

June 30, 2018

Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Education, at the Launch of the Skillsfuture Festival at Lifelong Learning Institute

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. A very good morning to everyone here today. I am happy to join you in celebrating the launch of the inaugural SkillsFuture Festival.

The Impetus for Skills Mastery and Lifelong Learning

2. Technology is changing the way we live, work and play. In the workplace, we see the impact of technology on jobs and skills. Resisting technology to remain status quo is not an option. That is like trying to fight the tide – you can try but the tide will win. But it is not all negative. There are positive aspects too. Innovation has led to new products and services, which improve the quality of life for consumers, and also the creation of good jobs that pay well. But these new jobs will require our workers to learn new skills and adopt new approaches in their work. I do not believe that technology will replace the need for humans, but it will change the way companies operate as they adopt technology to improve productivity and enhance work processes. The most powerful combination is one where technology augments the human worker.

3. So we need to face this new reality and turn the challenges into opportunities for our companies and our workers. To do this well, we must continuously update and deepen our skills to keep pace with technology and ensure industry relevance. We need to equip our workers with the knowledge to use technology effectively, like how a craftsman is able to use his tools skilfully to get the job done. And we need to include qualities that go beyond what machines and computers can do – like innovative problem solving, understanding culture and context, and critical thinking. All these must be part of a national culture which encourages lifelong learning from young, and with strong support from employers, unions and education institutions. We need a “whole of nation” approach. This is what the national SkillsFuture movement aims to achieve.

Embracing Skills Mastery and Lifelong Learning through SkillsFuture

4. The SkillsFuture movement is not just a specific programme or initiative. It is an ongoing movement that requires everyone’s participation. This movement was started in 2015 to enable all Singaporeans to develop to our fullest potential. It begins with the discovery and development of our individual interests and strengths. By building upon these aptitudes and working towards skills mastery over time, we can excel in our chosen fields and achieve success in what we do by doing it very well.

5. There are many possible pathways. One recent initiative is to include more lifelong learning options such as the SkillsFuture Series at the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). We want our IHLs to see their role as not only educating our students and preparing them for employment upon graduation, but to also provide continuous education and lifelong learning opportunities for Singaporeans who are already in the workforce. I am glad to know that many of the distinguished members of the International Academic Advisory Panel (IAAP), which met recently in Singapore, have also given the advice that our IHLs should not just focus on training our students, but to also reach out to our workers and adult learners and help them in their lifelong learning journey.

A Festival to Celebrate Skills Mastery

6. We have made some progress so far, but there is more work to be done. To further raise awareness of the importance of lifelong learning and celebrate skills mastery, we are launching this inaugural edition of the SkillsFuture Festival.

7. In the coming month, there will be a series of activities organised into exciting learning clusters around the island which are easily accessible to the public. These include satellite festivals at the Community Development Centres, SkillsFuture Festival at the Singapore Management University, and other community-based events organised in partnership with organisations such as NTUC, People’s Association, Science Centre Singapore, SGEnable and Council for Third Age.

8. There will be many interactive activities for everyone available through workshops and learning events. For example, we have set up showcases on mixed reality learning, virtual reality painting and smart homes, to showcase the different learning opportunities on offer. There is also “Night with the Stars@LLI”, an event where families can witness the lunar eclipse together while learning new digital skills at the SkillsFuture Digital and Artificial Intelligence workshops.

9. I am glad that many companies have also stepped forward to support the Festival initiatives. For example, Google, LinkedIn, Samsung, Accenture and Deloitte will participate in a two-part panel discussion on “The Future of Work” and “The Future of Skills” at the SkillsFuture Forum organised by Straits Times and SSG. Other enterprises such as Rakuten, OCBC, Bank of Singapore, SingPost, SATS and Fuji Xerox will organise learning events at the Festival for their staff. I encourage more employers to join us and support SkillsFuture and lifelong learning for their employees. This is the right thing to do, and also good for businesses as it is an increasingly important element in how companies compete for talent and maximise the contributions of their workforce.

10. We will also bring awareness of the Festival online with the launch of a SkillsFuture Festival microsite. This will be accessible on the MySkillsFuture online portal and app. Through the microsite, Singaporeans will be able to find out about SkillsFuture Festival activities that are happening near them, and share information and pictures of the events on their social media platforms. In line with the Festival’s theme of skills mastery, more than 200 Udemy courses and e-books will be made available at discounted prices through the SkillsFuture Festival microsite.

11. We hope this Festival will help more Singaporeans experience the joy of learning and make lifelong learning a way of life. Our goal is to encourage everyone, including employers, unions and education institutions, to embrace and celebrate lifelong learning and skills mastery as part of our Singapore culture and DNA.

More Information and Choices at Your Fingertips

12. Initiatives like the MySkillsFuture portal and app are some ways to help Singaporeans chart their careers and lifelong learning pathways. The portal and app include features such as courses, industry insights and articles on skills development and career planning. Since its launch, the portal has garnered about 5.4 million user visits and around 550,000 user log-ins. I hope we will encourage more to use this portal through such efforts.

13. We will continue to make improvements to the MySkillsFuture portal and app based on user feedback. To promote more targeted and relevant skills acquisition, MySkillsFuture will start using machine learning to recommend courses for our users by early 2019. The aim is to have a better match between the recommended courses and the user’s needs and interests.

14. We have also started publishing quality and outcome indicator scores for selected courses on MySkillsFuture. Users can view the feedback from other learners on these courses, before deciding which courses they want to choose. This will also serve as a useful incentive for course providers, and to differentiate the better ones from the rest of the pack. We will extend this initiative to all SSG-funded courses by mid-2019. The portal will introduce more features later this year, such as a grant calculator to help users compute the grants which they are eligible for. All these are done to make it more convenient and accessible to encourage more users.

Conclusion: Co-creating a Future for All Singaporeans

15. Ladies and gentlemen, efforts such as the SkillsFuture Festival and enhancements to MySkillsFuture are important in supporting the mission of lifelong learning and skills mastery. But SkillsFuture is much more than these programmes and initiatives. At the heart of it, SkillsFuture is a movement to cultivate a passion for learning, a willingness to embrace change, and a relentless pursuit for excellence. Always looking out for innovative ideas and better ways of doing things, venturing out of our comfort zones and enjoying the journey of experiencing something different and discovering something new along the way. These are the types of qualities which we need as a society, to keep Singapore vibrant, dynamic and successful in the future.

16. I wish everyone a fruitful and educational experience at the SkillsFuture Festival. Thank you.