Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), IE Singapore Global Scholarship Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, 13 October 2015, 4:40pm, IE Singapore
Parents and Scholars,
1. Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you at the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore Global Scholarship Awards 2015.
2. Let me first extend my heartiest congratulations to all our scholarship recipients. Today marks a significant milestone for all of you as it is your first step towards a meaningful career in the international arena. Whether you are joining IE Singapore, or one of our promising local companies, I look forward to the role you will play in contributing to Singapore’s internationalisation efforts.
Demand for Global-Ready Talent
3. There continues to be strong demand for global-ready talent. A survey conducted by IE showed that 40 per cent of Singapore companies intend to increase the number of their staff taking on overseas-related roles in the next year. However, a key challenge is finding talent with the right skills and experience to take on such overseas roles. Indeed, our Trade Associations and Chambers have highlighted capability development as a key success factor for their internationalisation efforts. Strategies to attract, develop and retain talent are crucial for our companies to be able to compete globally.
Positioning Singaporeans for International Careers
4. To support the international manpower needs of Singapore companies, it is important to nurture and position our next generation of young talent. The IE Singapore Undergraduate Scholarship and the Young Talent Programme (YTP) Scholarship represent this increasing emphasis on developing more Singapore talent with global mindsets. I am pleased to note that the YTP scholarship has received good response since its launch two years ago. This year, there was a 30 percent increase in applications from last year.
5. The scholarship recipients were selected based on common traits that are deemed to be essential for a successful global career. For instance, Eugene Chee is a current recipient of the IE Singapore scholarship who displayed a passion for learning about current affairs and global development. He led his school team in The Straits Times Current Affairs Challenge and chaired the Organising Team for his school’s Hwa Chong History and Current Affairs Competition. I believe his passion for international affairs will enable him to contribute greatly to IE Singapore’s mission to grow the external economy.
6. Another good example is Grace Gan, a recipient of the YTP scholarship who joined The Ascott Limited upon graduation last year. Grace went through a six-month overseas attachment with Ascott Kuala Lumpur and received on-the-job training in key operations departments of Ascott’s Serviced Residences. Recently, Ascott also sponsored Grace’s language classes to hone her Business Mandarin abilities as she prepares for possible postings to Mandarin-speaking markets in the near future.
7. Apart from the two scholarships, IE Singapore also plays a key role in providing opportunities for young Singaporeans to gain valuable overseas working experience. In line with the national SkillsFuture initiative, the YTP Market Immersion programme - which supports NTU, NUS and SMU students to take on internships and work-study programmes - will be extended to all polytechnics by the end of this year. This will provide opportunities for more Singaporeans to obtain international exposure and access global careers.
Grooming Talent for the Infrastructure Sector
8. Singapore also has much potential to develop into a regional infrastructure hub. To support that effort, we need to develop leaders and managers with sound management skills to undertake large-scale and complex infrastructure projects in Asia and beyond. This was why IE Singapore introduced the YTP Infrastructure Development Scholarship in 2014. The scholarship is targeted at students who are enrolled in the Master of Science in Project Management programme at NUS, to groom fresh talent for the infrastructure sector. For the first time, three students will be awarded the YTP Infrastructure Development Scholarship to pursue careers in DBS Bank and Hyflux Ltd. They are Yuen Wei Qi, Koh Jun Yang and Chia Zhi Xian. Our best wishes and congratulations to all of you as you embark on this new and exciting career.
9. Internationalisation is an important aspect of our economic strategy to help our companies grow and enhance their competitiveness. In support of that goal, we must adopt a forward-looking approach towards developing international talent. IE Singapore will continue to work closely with our industries, companies and institutes of higher-learning to prepare Singaporeans for international responsibilities. I commend our YTP corporate partners on your foresight and commitment to nurturing our young homegrown talent. And, I look forward to further collaborations with more industry partners.
10. Once again, congratulations to all the scholarship recipients. I wish you all the best in your journeys ahead. I am confident that each and every one of you will contribute to our society and economy in meaningful and significant ways. Thank you.