Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship awards

Be open to new ideas, deepen technical expertise: DPM Teo

Public service must be a conducive place for innovation, officers must challenge status quo

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 yesterday.

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. This year's 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, the public service awarded eight recipients from this year's batch with the PSC Scholarship (Engineering).

This new scholarship, which was launched in December 2016, 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 didn't get here by simply following what others did," he said, adding that public officers must "update our policy assumptions" and "challenge the status quo".

The public service is looking into streamlining processes, such as procurement, and encouraging pilot projects and experimentation.

And government agencies will allow officers to experiment with new regulatory methods before making changes to existing regulations or laws, he added.

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.

PSC chairman Eddie Teo added that the public service needs to have a "diverse set of talent to generate a wide range of ideas to formulate robust policies". It "cannot rely on successful past formulas to meet future challenges".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Be open to new ideas, deepen technical expertise: DPM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe