Mr Clarence Ti, Principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Ngee Ann Polytechnic Council Members and Faculty Members
Parents and Family Members
1 I am delighted to join you today at this graduation ceremony.
2 Let me first start by congratulating all the graduands from the School of Infocomm & Technology (ICT) and NP’s Continuing Education Academy. This ceremony is an important milestone; it marks the culmination of your learning journey at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and the commencement of a new phase in your lives. It is an occasion to fondly remember your student life experiences, and to celebrate your educational achievements.
3 It is also an opportunity to acknowledge and thank your family, friends and lecturers who have supported you throughout this journey and contributed to your success. Many of them are here today. Please join me in thanking them with a big round of applause!
4 Today, I would like to leave you with three thoughts that I hope you will carry with you as you embark on the next exciting phase of your lives.
CAPITALISING ON OPPORTUNITIES IN THE DIGITAL AGE
5 The first is from Helen Keller who said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and she went on to become an author, lecturer and political activist. Her life story has inspired many to live life to the fullest by focusing on what is possible and seizing every opportunity.
6 As graduands from the School of Infocomm and Technology, you too have that option as you enter a world that is rich with opportunities. Today, we live in a digital age where technology dominates almost every facet of our lives, with a profound impact on the way we live, work and interact with one another.
7 At the same time, Singapore is in one of the most exciting and dynamic growth regions in the world. Within a decade, Southeast Asia is expected to become the fourth-largest economy globally. Promising prospects await those among you who are ready to embrace the opportunities offered by our region which will be the next frontier of a burgeoning digital economy.
8 Some of our home-grown entrepreneurs and companies are already doing so with much success. Some of you may be familiar with ASOS. You may have used an image of an item you had liked to search for a similar product on the ASOS online store. ViSenze, a Singaporean company, provided the image recognition technology behind this search function. Its technology is also used by other online marketplaces like Rakuten.
9 As more companies digitally transform to benefit from the digital economy, there will be more, and varied, career opportunities for ICT talent like you. In 2017, our companies employed close to 190,000 ICT workers. By next year, we expect this number to increase by 15%, to almost 220,000 ICT workers. The main areas of growth will be in AI, data analytics and cybersecurity.1
10 ICT talent like you will be highly sought after across the entire spectrum of the economy. Your practice-based education will be of much value to employers because you would be able to apply what you have learnt to help solve real business problems. For example, Gigi Tuang, who is graduating from the Diploma in Network Systems & Security course, single-handedly developed nine robotic process automation programmes to automate mundane, transactional tasks during her internship at the Ministry of Home Affairs. Today, these programmes are used by the Singapore Police Force and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
11 Some of you may be budding entrepreneurs and decide to start your own IT venture like Jaden Teo and Jack Soh, who are both Ngee Ann alumni. Jaden and Jack co-founded Kalpha, an app that connects people so that they can share skills, experiences and knowledge with one another. Their start-up received a six-figure sum in funding from a venture capitalist in Vietnam. In fact, Kalpha was incubated at NP, and received the SG Founder’s Grant from Enterprise Singapore.
12 Indeed, our region and the digital economy offer many a “daring adventure”, filled with exciting opportunities, and Singapore is the ideal place from which you can follow your dreams.
NEVER STOP LEARNING
13 My second message is from Mahatma Gandhi who said “Learn as if you were to live forever.”
14 Technology is continuously disrupting industries, companies, business models and jobs. The companies and jobs of yesterday are being modified, reinvented, or in some cases completely lost due to technological advancement. To stay relevant and competitive, our enterprises must keep enhancing their capabilities, and our people must keep upgrading their skills and gain new knowledge.
15 That is why in Singapore we have emphasised the importance of lifelong learning and launched the SkillsFuture movement. In an economy that is constantly changing, we must be ready to “learn as if we will live forever” and pick up new skills to stay productive, relevant and updated.
16 In this regard, the 40 graduands we have here today from NP’s Continuing Education & Training Academy are an inspiration to all of us. It is hard enough to study when you are a full-time student, but to combine that when you are working and do this part-time requires exceptional commitment. These graduands, who will be receiving their Advanced Diploma in Enterprise Business Analytics, are role models who remind us that our learning journey continues even as we progress in our careers.
17 I am also happy that NP will be launching a new micro-learning series, Professions, to support you as you upgrade your skills throughout your careers. Professions comprises a suite of online bite-sized courses that have been curated in collaboration with industry players. These modular courses can be accessed through your mobile devices so that you can learn anywhere and anytime.
18 Beyond technical skills and knowhow, it is also crucial that we all deepen our knowledge of our region, Southeast Asia. Singapore already has a strong track record as a location of choice for companies that seek to grow their operations in the region. Our value proposition is underpinned by our pro-business climate, rich talent pool, and vibrant innovation eco-system. But for us to sustain and enhance our competitive advantage, it is essential that Singaporeans acquire a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of ASEAN markets and cultures. That will be in as much demand as our technical skills and knowledge.
19 Mark Wang, an NP alumnus, is one example of an individual who has gone on to acquire these skills, by perhaps taking the road less travelled. Mark is currently based in Yangon, heading Starlight’s technology arm and Mogozay.com. I would like to encourage more of you to take full advantage of opportunities, especially earlier in your careers, to move out of your comfort zone and experience working and living in ASEAN countries.
GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY
20 My third, and final, thought is this: do remember to give back to your community. Because, as it has been said in different ways, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, can make a life.”
21 I am heartened to hear that “serving the community” is one of NP’s core values. As you pursue your careers and passions, I hope you will continue to hold this value close to your heart, and contribute meaningfully to those around you.
22 We can do this in different ways according to our own interests, our abilities, and the needs of the different segments of our society. Some, for example, may be struggling to keep up with digitalisation and technology, and therefore risk being left behind. This is why we launched the Digital Readiness Blueprint last year; it has 10 recommendations to help every Singaporean be digitally connected and engaged, so that they may thrive in the digital economy.
23 Most importantly, this Blueprint is a whole-of-Singapore effort; it involves the Government, businesses, communities and individuals. In other words, there is a part for each and every one of us to play. One of the ways we can help is by volunteering at our Digital Clinics, which offer one-on-one assistance to participants, especially seniors, to better use their smartphones and apps.
24 There have also been other ground-up efforts as well. A number of your contemporaries, like Bryan Chew and his friends, have been going to Radin Mas Constituency to teach the seniors there how to use technology, such as e-payments, in their everyday lives. This includes giving the seniors one-on-one guidance, and shaping the curriculum according to the seniors’ areas of interest.
25 As ICT graduands, you have both the instincts and skills to help those around you to adopt digital technologies. I hope that more of you will step forward as digital ambassadors to help those within your communities to confidently and safely use technology.
26 Let me conclude. There are many exciting and rewarding pathways that lie ahead of you. The field of study you have chosen, and the promise of the region around us, mean that there are many opportunities that we can seize.
27 If you strive to live life as a “daring adventure”, if you “learn as if you were to live forever”, and if you remember to give back to your community, then I am confident that you will find meaning, success and happiness in your chosen paths.
28 I wish all of you every success. Once again, my heartiest congratulations to all the graduands. Thank you.
1 Based on ICM Manpower Survey 2017.