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Speech By Ms Low Yen Ling At SIM University Convocation 2015

Speech By Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry Of Trade And Industry & Ministry Of Education, At SIM University Convocation 2015 (Session 2) On 7 October 2015, 2.30pm, The Grand Hall Of SIM University

Professor Aline Wong, Chancellor, SIM University;
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University;
Graduands;
Ladies and gentlemen;

  1. Good afternoon. I am very honoured to attend today’s convocation ceremony, especially as I am told that UniSIM is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Congratulations! It is a celebration for both the graduands of the two Schools present here, as well as for the University itself.
  1. Indeed, UniSIM has done well in carving a name for itself in the higher education landscape. As the first university in Singapore to cater to continuing education and training – CET in short – the University has seen scores of working adults graduate with skills that are highly valued by the various industries in Singapore. This is a reflection of our collective belief in lifelong learning and in improving ourselves even after our formal schooling years. 
  1. Today’s graduands embody the same spirit of learning and self-improvement. The degree that you are about to receive is a culmination of your commitment to staying relevant in the workforce. As graduates from the School of Science and Technology and the School of Human Development and Social Services, you have great potential to contribute to Singapore, whether in new economic growth sectors or in the domestic sectors where social needs have taken on new significance.
  1. I know this because I spent time in the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and I remember vividly our various conversations with President Cheong and his team on how we can work with UniSIM to create more undergraduate degree programmes in Early Childhood Education, in Social Service, so that graduates will move on to uplift the lives of the more vulnerable fellow Singaporeans.
  1. In my roles as the Mayor or Parliamentary Secretary or even as an MP, I’m very humbled to have had the opportunity to interact with professionals from the social service sector and people from different walks of life.
  1. And through my interactions with them, I learnt that the social service sector faces a continuous and growing need for professionals like yourself who can deliver high quality and holistic interventions to clients from a diverse range of backgrounds – it could be as a social sector professional in the family service sector dealing with families with complex issues, or in a voluntary welfare organisation helping Singaporeans with disabilities and special needs.
  1. To this end, the Government encourages workers to upgrade their skills, and we also work with the social service sector employers to improve their human capital – or traditionally known as human resource – and information technology capabilities. This two-pronged approach will put the social service sector in good stead and uplift the sector’s capability as a whole. And many moves were made by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in the last two years to pave career pathways for professionals who join as fresh graduates or mid-career professionals, to allow them to rise through the ranks, or even to join different voluntary welfare organisations – so they get complex perspectives and skillsets, so that the whole of the experience is more than the sum of its various parts.
  1. I understand from President and Chancellor that some of you graduands are already working in the social services sector, and I hope that you will put your new skills to good use to make a big difference in the lives of others. And I would also like to encourage you to keep warm ties with your fellow graduands because these are the people who have studied shoulder-to-shoulder with you, and they will be an important part of your social circle to share practical tips wherever you are, even if you are not in the same sector. Stay connected as a UniSIM community, because many of the difficulties that we face in the fast-changing world require inter-disciplinary solutions.
  1. Just seven days ago, I was in the Ministry of Social and Family Development, as well as the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. I am now in the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. I hope that my work in both the education and economic sectors will enable us to better couple the demands of the economy with available education pathways for Singaporeans. Like what the two Acting Ministers for Education have mentioned, Singaporeans will then be equipped with the right skills to thrive – not just in our local economy but in the regional and global economy. This is indeed in line with the SkillsFuture movement launched by the Government earlier this year, and is one way in which we can continue to foster the spirit of continuous learning, and for which UniSIM has always been a trailblazer.
  1. I certainly recognise that it is tough for working adults to pursue part-time studies while being in full-time employment. Graduands present today understand how difficult it is to juggle studying, working full-time, and raising a family. So I think all of our graduands here today deserve a round of applause for this commitment.
  1. And I know of a graduand by the name of Mdm Noretta Muhammad Ibrahim Jacob – she is one of the graduands today. I could go on and on as there are many MdmNorettas, but I’m only given 10 minutes. I understand that Mdm Noretta had been working for some time in the pre-school sector – this is a topic very close to my heart, because I was in MSF working very closely with ECDA and I’m a mother of two young boys aged 8 and 10 years old, and I know how important the pre-school sector is in terms of providing working parents with access to affordable, quality pre-school education. We salute the pre-school teachers who have given their time, effort and commitment to take good care of and also to teach our young ones.
  1. So Mdm Noretta had been working in the pre-school sector, when she enrolled in UniSIM’s Bachelor in Early Childhood with Management programme, four years ago, in 2011.
  1. Life as a part-time student was far from easy – that was what Mdm Noretta told us – and it was sheer determination that saw her through. While studying, she had to manage the operations of not just one, but three childcare centres in her role as a Senior Centre Manager, and also balance taking care of her very young family, including a young daughter and her elderly parents. On top of this, she found time to pursue her other interests in photography, and also floorball. I am sure there are many such examples amongst our graduands here today.
  1. So I was very happy to learn that Mdm Noretta has been able to apply what she picked up through the UniSIM programme in her work, and has been promoted to Senior Principal of Pre-School by the Park. Well done! Now, Mdm Noretta even encourages her more junior teachers to take up the UniSIM degree to upskill themselves. And such commitment to developing capability in oneself and also fellow colleagues should be emulated. Well done and congratulations to all of you!
  1. I share this story and I share the good news of how the pre-school recognised the degree and promoted her to be a senior principal to illustrate the point that through work we have a better appreciation of what we have learnt through the degree programme and are able to apply it. And this is what employers all over the world, including Singapore, are looking out for.
  1. When we asked Mdm Noretta about her success, she was very humble. Mdm Noretta attributes her success to her family members: her mother who inspires her to excel in all that she does; her husband who supported her by taking over the childcaring duties during his days off; and her young daughter.
  1. Many of you in the audience today will have similar stories to share, and we look forward to hearing from you as well. And you would have had to overcome such challenges in terms of juggling your time and commitments. So all of us here seated on stage are really proud of each one of you graduands. You should take pride in your achievements as well as your perseverance throughout this journey. Kudos to you again.
  1. And as you progress in your career, whether it is in your current sector, or in an adjacent sector, do also look out for future opportunities to continue to hone your skills and grow professionally. Contribute to the growth and learning of others – I was once told of this about learning – we internalise 25% of the message if we read it, if we relay it to a friend or be a mentor, that would notch it up to 40 or 50%, but we learn best when we try to apply it – through applied learning. This is what UniSIM has always offered its graduates, and I have full confidence that you will be able to do well in your current or new career. I hope you will continue to contribute to the growth and learning of others in practical ways, by sharing your experiences and knowledge, and also by inspiring others with your example.
  1. As a mother of two young boys, I understand that sometimes, it is difficult to cater to all the demands that are placed on our shoulders. Nonetheless, it is important to take time out for ourselves. I try to remind myself that the best investment we can make is not in a particular fund, or an investment, but in ourselves and in our family. We owe it to ourselves to take care of our health, and also to know what motivates us, what will allow us to de-stress so that we can go further. So no matter how busy we are in meeting all the demands of life, I hope you will reflect on what helps you to recharge, and in fact, be more productive at the workplace.
  1. I also recognise the effort that UniSIM has put in to better support working adults. For example, the University has adjusted its andragogy to incorporate more modular courses and introduced e-learning as a way to enable students to learn anywhere, at any time. These are very good examples that we feel other educational institutes can certainly learn from.
  1. I would like to conclude my remarks by also acknowledging half of our audience here today – they are the family members, loved ones and employers here with us today. Each of you has played an important role in supporting your colleague, your loved ones, in their professional development and journey of juggling the different acts. Supportive families enable Singaporeans to continuously upgrade themselves, and also for the workforce to stay current, and for the economy to remain competitive. So graduands – put our hands together to thank your family and colleagues.
  1. On behalf of all of us here on the stage, congratulations again on your achievements and I wish all of you here a very successful transition to the next stage of your career.
  1. Congratulations. Thank you very much.

 

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