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Encouraging the pursuit of passion and lifelong learning in our youth

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at the Republic Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony

02 May 2018

Mr David Wong, Chairman of RP Board of Governors,

Members of the Board,

Mr Yeo Li Pheow, Principal & CEO of Republic Polytechnic,

Distinguished Guests, Lecturers, Parents and Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon! I am most delighted to be here at the Republic Polytechnic’s 2018 Graduation Ceremony. My heartiest congratulations to all RP graduands!

2. I am sure that many people have played an instrumental role in your education journey – your parents, friends, lecturers and mentors and many who have helped you along the way. I’d like to invite all graduands to stand and face your parents and friends who are here and give them a big round of applause for their unwavering love and support! As your principal has said, it is an important milestone and worth celebrating. But also, there’s a mixed message – that although it’s an end, it’s also a beginning.

Nurturing future-ready professionals

3. It is indeed a long journey; not a destination. Education starts the moment we are born. As children, we learn to speak, read, run and socialise. When we enter school, we gain a strong foundation of knowledge and important values to help us navigate the world. As graduands, all of you are well-equipped with skills to take on employment and challenges of the future. But as technology advances, it changes the way we live, work and play constantly, continuously, and sometimes drastically. So as long as we live, we should not stop learning.

4. Just two decades ago, people received news and entertainment via television and radio. The introduction of the Internet gave rise to user-generated content. The popularity of mobile devices and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube created even more channels and options for us to create, distribute and receive content. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and blockchain technology are making an impact on how audiences are engaged.

5. So, the skills we need for our work today are very different from what we used to have, and will be very different three to five years from now. And jobs can come from and go to anywhere, just like how content generated in one country can receive attention from another end of the world. You might have heard of 23-year-old musician Jacob Collier. Growing up in North London, Jacob is an amazing vocalist, music arranger and multi-instrumentalist. Literally a one-man band, Jacob attracted a global following when his homemade, multi-instrumental Youtube videos became viral in 2011, when he was 17 years old. He was then invited to the MIT Media Lab in Boston to collaborate on a project to develop a new multimedia live experience. He went on to release his debut album. Alongside his album, Jacob launched the ‘#IHarmU” campaign on a crowdfunding site which was about harmonizing people. He called for video clips of melodies from all over the world, which he harmonised into a two-hour livestream video. The Grammy award winner is now hosting masterclasses, performing with orchestras and big bands around the world, and touring internationally. In fact, Jacob was in town recently to perform at the Singapore International Festival of Arts, and his show was sold out!The point I’m making is that this young chap of just 17 years old is not only highly talented but someone who has embraced technology along the way. He has made full use of the opportunities available to him.

6. So, technology is both a challenge and an opportunity. To remain relevant, we must constantly reinvent ourselves and deepen our skillsets. This is what SkillsFuture is about – to transform education and the way we think about education. Education does not end with a degree or a diploma. In fact, it gives us the opportunities and resources to get better at what we do throughout our working lives. To stay on top of change, what matters most is our willingness to unlearn old routines, pick up new skills, and strive for excellence in whatever we do.

Changing nature of work

7. Technology has also changed the way we organise our workplace.Just as the likes of Amazon and Lazada have created an online marketplace for products, we now have the same for services. The sharing economy has extended to include skills and people’s time. People are becoming used to seeking and offering services on digital platforms like Upwork and TaskRabbit. Enabled by technology, the gig economy is growing, transforming the conventional workplace. Teams are assembled quickly for specific jobs, and disbanded just as quickly after the projects are completed.

8. This presents many opportunities for you. For example, with online marketplace, young people with new skills are able to leapfrog others, and compete in an open marketplace.

9. But a career journey like this will not be easy. It could be unsettling, as you may not be employed all the time. In the media industry, freelancers make up about half of the workforce in Singapore.1 To compete and thrive in a gig economy, you need to learn quickly and deeply. You need to master your skills, build your credentials, and develop your network of contacts. Be very good in what you are passionate about, and keep trying to do better. There is no substitute for hard work.

Pursuit of passion and lifelong learning

10. Take, for example, Mr Mohamad Syafiq Mohamad Halid, your senior who graduated several years ago. Syafiq is an experienced sound designer for musical and experimental performances. While in RP, he had the opportunity to develop the sound expertise of local performing groups like Nadi Singapura and The Kaizen M.D. After graduation, he continued studying, and became a qualified instructor for a highly useful software in audio production, called “Ableton Live”. He worked part-time to finance his certification exams in Hong Kong. Armed with his new qualification, Syafiq is now conducting classes to share his knowledge with other enthusiasts in audio production.

11. Another lifelong learner is Mr Adrian Raj Angappan, your fellow graduand. Having been a lecturer in the private education industry for 7 years, Adrian took up the Specialist Diploma in Applied Learning and Teaching last year. He was able to apply the skills he learnt in his own classes and benefit his students. Adrian and Syafiq are examples of continuous learning to stay relevant and current.

Conclusion

12. Finally, let me end with a simple quote from Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Indeed, you are the future of Singapore. I believe you have the passion, creativity and courage to pursue your aspirations. You can contribute to the society, help the vulnerable, and make Singapore a better home for all.

13. I wish you the very best as you embark on the next phase of your journey. Once again, my heartiest congratulations to all of you! Thank you.


1 Based on MCI’s Study on Freelancers in the Infocomm Media and Design Sectors in 2015, freelancers augment the media industry workforce by 50%. Source: Channel News Asia article “More Support for Media Freelancers with Launch of Tripartite Standard”, 29 Nov 2017.

Last Updated: 03 May 2018

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