DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) 10th Anniversary and Award Ceremony
Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) 10th Anniversary and Award Ceremony on 28 July 2021.
Dear friends from our Sponsoring Organisations and Government agencies, scholarship recipients and your families, ladies and gentlemen,
A very good afternoon to all of you. The Singapore-Industry Scholarship, or SgIS (“S-G-I-S”) in short, holds a special meaning for me. Launched back in 2012, this was the first scholarship I started after becoming Education Minister. You are today entering university and a future working space that are quite different from what it was back in 2012. But your schooling years have prepared you well for the exciting journey that lies ahead. I attended the first four scholarship ceremonies in my time at the Ministry of Education, and I am glad to be back for the 10th anniversary of the scholarship.
SgIS and Economic Transformation
SgIS is an important partnership between the Government and industries – to collectively develop a stronger Singaporean core of industry leaders, by offering undergraduate scholarships.Through the SgIS, we wanted to create more opportunities for young Singaporeans like you, to pursue and grow your areas of interest in university. Your learning does not stop there, but continues throughout your working life. So when we offered this scholarship, we partnered organisations that offer good learning opportunities, especially for new employees. Hence, internships and mentorships are an integral part of the SgIS. Scholarship recipients also get to interact with leaders from the public and private sectors.
The SgIS is still in its early days. The pioneer batch of scholars has only been in the workforce for five years.While still nascent, the SgIS is growing from strength to strength. In the past decade, the number of scholarships given out each year has steadily increased. I am heartened that we are giving out a record 162 scholarships this year. Including the scholarships given out today, we would have awarded more than 1,100 scholarships in the past decade. The range of offerings has also widened. Today recipients can pursue a career in the arts with our museums, in the fast-moving semiconductor industry with one of the foundries, or in the emerging MedTech sector. And more. Despite the many near-term challenges brought about by COVID-19, companies continue to invest in the future. And our youths see the opportunities that the scholarship offer.
The SgIS is part of the broader effort to deepen the partnership between the Government and industries, to develop our people fully. COVID-19 has accelerated global structural shifts, such as the digital revolution, a stronger focus on sustainability, and a premium on resilience. To respond to these shifts, economic transformation is critical. We have a good headstart, by starting the Industry Transformation Maps, or ITMs, in 2016. Until the disruption caused by COVID-19, overall labour productivity and real median income were growing at a faster pace compared to earlier years. Businesses responded positively to our call for transformation. In fact, those who have already embarked on their transformation journey, found it easier to adapt and re- positioned themselves in the face of the pandemic.
We are now working on ITM 2025, to refresh the strategies for each industry to emerge stronger in a post-COVID world. As part of ITM 2025, we are embarking on more Alliances for Action. These Alliances are a new and more nimble way for companies and government agencies to collaborate. We convened nine Alliances so far, to tap on new areas of growth. I am encouraged by the good progress made in the past months. ITM 2025 also has a strong focus on jobs and skills. As we deepen the partnership for economic transformation, bringing out the best in our people remains the focus of our plans. The SgIS is one way to provide more pathways for our youths. We are also expanding the range of programs and pathways at all levels and at different stages of life – so that every child, every adult, has opportunities to continue growing.
Given the current economic climate, many workers are understandably anxious about their livelihoods and the pace of disruption. The best way to improve the lives of our workers and their families is to continue to invest in them. This will then give them the confidence and skills to take on new and better opportunities that come along. And by making the best of these opportunities, Singapore can continue to stay relevant to the world and thrive as an economy.
It is in this context that we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the SgIS – at a time when economic transformation is accelerating, as we put greater emphasis on developing human capital, and as we find new ways to create value for the world.
To our Sponsoring Organisations, thank you for continuing to invest in our people. We started with 28 sponsoring organisations in 2012. Today, we have 73 organisations across 14 industries. You are not only sponsoring their education, you are also providing them with a good career with opportunities for growth and lifelong learning. I would like to make special mention of the 16 pioneering Sponsor Organisations who have been with us from day one and continue to support the programme today. Thank you for investing the time and resources in grooming our next generation of industry leaders.
I still remember giving out the first batch of scholarships. I recalled shaking each of the recipients’ hands and how proud their parents were. Indeed, how excited I myself was, for the path ahead of them. And many in our pioneer batch of scholars have gone on to do well. Alvin Chan, who joined ST Engineering, benefitted from its Structured Rotation Programme. He was given stretch assignments, including the development of unmanned surface vessels with the use of AI, data analytics and machine learning. Alvin is currently pursuing his Masters in the United States under the sponsorship of ST Engineering.
Jeremiah Chen from Keppel Group was also given wide-ranging opportunities. He was involved in the front-end engineering development of a state-of-the-art gasification facility on Jurong Island, and an integrated Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Sequestration, or CCUS, system. Both projects have helped Singapore advance on our sustainability journey. Five years on, Jeremiah is currently stationed in Switzerland as an analyst for one of Keppel’s investment companies, looking at clean energy investment opportunities in Europe. Alvin’s and Jeremiah’s stories are not unique. They represent the possibilities that the SgIS provides. And their journey of exploration and discovery is only just beginning!
The Future is Yours
In many ways, it is not just about the opportunities that the Sponsoring Organisations present you, but also about how you make the best of these opportunities. Mohamed Faisal Bin Mohamed Soffe received his scholarship in 2015 and now works for SP Group. Soon after he started work, Faisal saw an opportunity to create a system within SP that reduces manual daily reporting. Within 3 months, he created an app, just by learning from online resources, such as YouTube. Faisal did not stop there. He worked with his colleagues to improve the usability of the app. Today, the app is known as the Worksite Management app and is used by all departments in SP PowerGrid. It has helped to save thousands of man hours per year. I hope Faisal’s determination and sprit of innovation will inspire you to always look out for opportunities where you can create new value and make a difference.
SgIS recipients have not only done well academically and at work, but have also made an impact in the community. Take Nadiah Binte Mohammad Azman for example. She is a full-term scholar with GlaxoSmithKline. Driven by her passion for environmental sustainability, she volunteers for the Clean Plate Campaign organised by Food from the Heart. There, she educates primary school children about reducing food wastage at home. Nadiah aspires to care for society by providing patients with the right medical assistance, and she sees a career with GSK as the gateway to that. Thank you, Nadiah! To commemorate SgIS’ 10th anniversary, I am heartened that SgIS scholars and Sponsoring Organisations have rallied together for “SgIS Gives Back”. This month-long steps challenge aims to raise funds for the Community Chest. I am happy to announce that more than $25,000 has been raised so far. Well done everyone!
It takes a village to raise a child. And this cannot be truer today, as we grapple with the disruptions brought about by COVID-19. You are where you are today because of your parents who have brought you up, and the teachers who have guided you. Many of you had to adapt to home-based learning during your final year in JC and Polytechnic. This experience would have been much more difficult had it not been for the extra effort put in by your teachers. Let me take this opportunity to thank your teachers, your parents and everyone else who have supported you through the years. They are all very proud of you!
COVID-19 may have disrupted your plans. But it has also opened our eyes to new possibilities. To all our scholarship recipients, the world out there will be more uncertain and complex. But it will also be filled with new and exciting opportunities. Your schooling years have prepared you well. Make the most of your time in university to learn, and try out new things. More importantly, remember that when you start work, you must not stop learning – the workplace is one of the best places to learn.
Be humble – learn from anyone; Be hungry – learn in any way you can, from experiences, from trial and errors. Be helpful – help others learn, contribute to organizational learning, and you will be surprised how much you can learn by teaching. I hope you go beyond charting your own career, to explore how you can make a lasting impact on your colleagues and the community. This way, I am confident that we will not only nurture a new generation of industry leaders, but also build a better and brighter future. I wish you all the very best. Thank you.
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