Public service needs to deepen technical skills, and be bold and creative: DPM Teo Chee Hean

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that Singapore faces new challenges and uncertainties in today's global environment.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that Singapore faces new challenges and uncertainties in today's global environment. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The public service needs to deepen its expertise in technical fields while being creative and open to new ideas, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Wednesday (July 12).

Speaking at the Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship award ceremony, he said that Singapore faces new challenges and uncertainties in today's global environment.

"Many drivers that have brought global growth and prosperity - free trade, openness to talent and immigration and a safe and secure operating environment - are no longer taken for granted in many developed countries," he said.

"Governments worldwide are seeking new pathways for success and new sources of growth."

A total of 71 scholarships were given at the award ceremony held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel on Wednesday. The recipients - who come from 15 different schools such as junior colleges and polytechnics - were chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants.

DPM Teo, who is also the Minister-in-charge of the civil service, said the public service needs more officers with technical skills in engineering, digital and related fields such as cyber security.

To this end, PSC Scholarship (Engineering) launched in December 2016 has eight recipients from this year's batch of 71 scholarship holders, said PSC chairman Eddie Teo.

This new scholarship will train young Singaporeans to handle challenges in defence technology, building a Smart Nation, climate change and scientific fields, said DPM Teo.

He added that the public service must also be "a conducive place for innovation".

"We are looking into streamlining processes such as procurement. We are also encouraging pilot projects, and creating new spaces for experimentation."

He said that "the introduction of 'regulatory sandboxes' in our government agencies will allow officers to experiment with new regulatory methods before making changes to existing regulations or laws".

For instance, the Road Traffic Act was amended earlier this year so that the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority can better support innovations such as trials of autonomous vehicles on public roads while safeguarding commuters' interests.