The future is for you to decide: Minister

Mr Chan responding to questions put to him by polytechnic students at yesterday's dialogue.
Mr Chan responding to questions put to him by polytechnic students at yesterday's dialogue.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The questions came thick and fast on an eclectic mix of topics: Can Singapore take in refugees? Should smoking be banned here? Can bursaries be given to students from middle-income families?

For over two hours yesterday, 300 students from the five polytechnics here grilled Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing on topics they were curious or passionate about at a dialogue.

Mr Chan's response: While the Government today may have a position on each of these issues, future generations will have to decide for themselves what kind of Singapore they want. "You have to decide for your generation what option you want to pursue," he said at the event at Republic Polytechnic.

The dialogue marked the end of the annual, week-long Polytechnic Forum, where students discussed topics such as the social safety net, education and national security.

When fielding questions, Mr Chan urged students to think of the effects of policies on different segments of society, and whether they were appropriate for the times. He also encouraged them to be inquisitive and to think for themselves.

He said: "Employers are looking for people with skills, not only pieces of paper (degrees). You must be prepared for that."

"Whatever job you think is hot in the market now, by the time you finish your studies... the jobs may no longer be relevant," he said.

After the session, health promotion management student Chrystine Wong, 22, said the remark made her think about how she could make herself stand out as a prospective employee, for instance, by building the skills needed to help people age actively.

Another student, Ms Nur Syafiah Erfatin Markhaban, 21, said: "My generation cares about getting good results to get a good job, but future employers will care more about skills."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'The future is for you to decide: Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe