Be prepared for disruptions, ministers tell new scholarship recipients

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan delivers a speech to Beacon Scholarship recipients at the Conrad Centennial on July 27, 2018.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan delivers a speech to Beacon Scholarship recipients at the Conrad Centennial on July 27, 2018.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

SINGAPORE - The next generation of public servants have to be able to adapt to disruptions in their chosen fields, a message forcefully delivered by no fewer than three ministers as they handed out 368 scholarships in separate ceremonies on Friday (July 27).

"All these disruptions will impact us in significant ways. We cannot stand still," Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told 54 Beacon Scholarship recipients at the Conrad Centennial.

These young men and women will be the new faces of the transport industry, receiving scholarships given out by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and its statutory boards, such as the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Land Transport Authority, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and Public Transport Council.

Mr Khaw said the transport industry faces disruptive forces such as driverless vehicles, digitalisation and climate change, amid rising political uncertainties, trade conflicts and terrorism.

In order to deal with such changes, policies have to be regularly reviewed, and even time-tested ideas may have to be completely overhauled, with MOT staff alert and able to respond quickly.

Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, added that there has been a shift away from simply looking at scholarship applicants' academic results, to other attributes such as "the character, drive and motivation to lead change, overcome challenges and make improvements".

At the Ministry of Home Affairs Scholarship and Sponsorship Presentation Ceremony, Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said while the Home Team has kept Singapore safe and secure, the security environment here and globally remains "dynamic".

She told the 201 scholarship recipients Singapore will have to face the challenges with growing manpower constraints.

"The terrorist threat to Singapore remains at a high level. We have a worsening global drug situation. There is increasing transnational crime and there will be rising workload and pressure on our officers. To meet these challenges, we have to learn to do more with less and become more effective," she said.

She said the Home Team would have to embrace technology more aggressively, for instance, in digitising police investigation processes and using video analytics to enhance supervision of prison inmates.

Home Team officers will also need targeted and timely training, to pick up the right skills and capabilities.

"The Home Team Academy has worked with SkillsFuture Singapore and institutes of higher learning to customise specific courses such as data analytics and cybersecurity to suit the Home Team context," said Mrs Teo.

"We will place greater emphasis in developing officers in the science and technology domains to support our digital transformation."

Over at the Resorts World Convention Centre, the need to adapt to a changing global landscape was also emphasised by Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah, who gave out Ministry of Education Teaching Scholarships and Awards to 113 recipients.

"The rise of xenophobic attitudes and prejudice around the world, and the use of fake news to stoke such sentiments is a concern for multi-cultural, immigrant societies like Singapore," she said.

Ms Indranee said teachers must be aware and up to date on contemporary issues, so that they can hold meaningful discussions with their students to help them understand and learn how to deal with them.

She added that the education system has changed to reflect evolving definitions of success for students, citing the example of specialised schools to cater to sporting and artistic talent, Stem (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and hands-on learning.

Teachers must have a mindset that not all students need to achieve the same outcomes, and that all talents and achievements should be celebrated and supported, said Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance.