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Supporting the aspirations of our youth

Speech by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth at the UBS Nobel Perspectives Live! Forum
30 August 2017

1. Good afternoon. I am very happy to be here and to share the stage with our four distinguished Nobel Laureates:

  • Mr Michael Spence
  • Mr Robert Merton
  • Mr Roger B Myerson; and
  • Mr Peter A Diamond

2. As you know, they are among the world’s most significant and celebrated thinkers in the field of economic sciences. So please join me again in putting our hands together, and giving them a warmest welcome to Singapore! I would like to thank UBS for launching their flagship forum, UBS Nobel Perspectives Live!, here in Singapore. The theme of today's forum, "Global trends impacting on our future generation", is particularly important for us. As a small nation with an open economy, we are very much impacted by global driving forces and trends. We need to invest in our people, so that they can enjoy meaningful opportunities, notwithstanding the challenging landscape.

3. At the recent National Day Rally, our Prime Minister outlined three issues that are important to the success of our country and well-being of our people. The three issues – investing in our preschool education, taking care of our health, building a Smart Nation – highlight our government’s priorities in making Singapore the best home for our current and future generations. In particular, I would like to touch on what it means to be a Smart Nation. Technology has changed the way we work, live and play. This pace of change is unprecedented, pervading all aspects of human life. And being a Smart Nation means that we want to harness the full potential of technology, as a means to generate new opportunities and make our lives better.  

4. In the process, we will face many questions, such as “how do we restructure our economy while ensuring our citizens are able to take on the new jobs created?” “what responsibilities should companies have towards workers as their own business models get disrupted?” And as our economy shifts, our youths – you – want to know: “how will the changing economic landscape and increasing use of technology affect my future?” “will the skills I am learning today in school still be relevant in a few years’ time?” This is borne out by the 2016 National Youth Survey, conducted by the National Youth Council. We know our youths believe that they have a stake in the future of our nation. They are also more open and accepting of diversity than before. Yet, they grapple with uncertainty over the future; studies; and emerging adulthood responsibilities.

5. There are no easy answers for what lies ahead due to the scale and complexity of these challenges. With people as our only resource, it is up to us to adapt to new situations and come up with imaginative solutions when faced with unexpected difficulties. We should adopt the spirit of lifelong learning –  always asking questions, trying new things and coming up with new solutions, even outside of a formal setting. And we can spur one another on, and collaborate to make things happen. Singapore is stronger as a nation when we pool our resources together to tackle the challenges ahead.

6. The Government will continue to play its part. At the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, we are preparing and supporting our youths in shaping our nation’s future. For instance, our Outward Bound Singapore programmes help our youths develop resilience to face the challenges ahead. We have the Youth Corps Singapore to empower our youths in caring for their communities. *SCAPE has spaces and programmes to support budding entrepreneurs and other youth aspirations. Through the National Youth Fund and the Young Change Makers Fund, the National Youth Council supports youths and youth organisations in implementing their ideas to benefit the community.

7. All of us have a role to play in shaping the Singapore we want. So today, I urge you to take this valuable opportunity to ask questions that matter to you. Our four Nobel Laureates have been asking questions and searching for answers throughout their lives – and they are still doing so. There are many questions I would like to pick their brains on; and I believe I have the privilege of asking the first question. So the first question I have for our distinguished panellists is:

In your opinion, what are the top global trends that you think would impact the future of youths – especially for Singapore and the people of Asia?

8. So have a few moments to think about it. And in conclusion, I hope that you will all have a very fruitful and stimulating session, and look forward to great future for all.

9. Thank you very much.     

Last Updated: 31 August 2017

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