Public officers urged to adapt to disruption

3 ministers make same point as they present scholarships to future public servants

The next generation of public servants have to be able to adapt to disruptions in their chosen fields, a message forcefully delivered by three ministers as they handed out 368 scholarships in separate ceremonies yesterday.

"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.

They received scholarships given out by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and its statutory boards 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, even completely overhauled, with MOT staff alert and able to respond quickly.

Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, said there has been a shift from simply looking at scholarship applicants' academic results to other attributes like "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 that 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.

DOING MORE WITH LESS

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.

MANPOWER MINISTER AND SECOND MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS JOSEPHINE TEO

"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 added.

She said the Home Team will have to embrace technology more aggressively, and Home Team officers will 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 cyber security to suit the Home Team context," said Mrs Teo.

Over at the Resorts World Convention Centre, the need to adapt to a changing global landscape was also noted 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 multicultural, 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 know that not all students need to achieve the same outcomes, and 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Public officers urged to adapt to disruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe