Iswaran to students: Embrace change, turn it into opportunity

Students should embrace trends such as new technologies and developments that are changing industries, enterprises and jobs across Asia and turn them into opportunities.

This was the message Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran had for students at the annual MTI Economic Dialogue, held yesterday at Fusionopolis 2.

Mr Iswaran cited Amazon's newly launched two-hour delivery service and the rise of transport apps such as Grab and Uber and bicycle-sharing services like oBike, and noted that new technologies are fundamentally changing business models.

This means firms "must be nimble and adapt quickly to such changes, or risk becoming obsolete", he said.

Meanwhile, the rise of China and the rest of Asia, especially India and South-east Asia, is also a historic opportunity. "Singapore can make a meaningful contribution to this Asian economic renaissance, and also benefit from it," he said.

"Ultimately, the change is ubiquitous - it is happening everywhere and on an unprecedented scale," said Mr Iswaran. "Rather than seek to resist these changes, the smart response is to embrace them and turn them into opportunities...

"The key is to be willing to venture beyond your comfort zones, learn continuously, take some risks and learn from failures, and build deep skills and capabilities."

Mr Iswaran urged students to be proactive in seeking out opportunities to gain regional exposure, whether through overseas internships, semesters abroad or regional work assignments.

They should also embrace lifelong learning to understand emerging technologies, acquire new skills and stay relevant to industry.

Those with an entrepreneurial spark should follow it, he added, noting that the Government and other institutions are providing support for such efforts. Under Startup SG Founder, for example, first-time entrepreneurs are offered up to $30,000 in government funding by matching $3 to every $1 raised privately.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Iswaran to students: Embrace change, turn it into opportunity'. Print Edition | Subscribe