Uncertain world offers many opportunities: Ng Chee Meng

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress Ng Chee Meng said it is important to have competencies in both technical and soft skills.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress Ng Chee Meng said it is important to have competencies in both technical and soft skills.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Having competencies in both technical and soft skills is vital, he tells young graduates

While we live in an uncertain world today, it is also exciting and offers many opportunities, said Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress.

He reassured young graduates at the Sikh Graduates Tea Reception yesterday, telling them that they just need to seize the opportunities ahead.

To do this, they must keep the drive to learn, said Mr Ng. "In Singapore culture, we have that built into many of us, but keep that drive going. Don't lose that spark of joy that drives us to want to learn."

Having competencies in both technical and soft skills is also important, he said. Some of the skills he hoped Singaporeans would pick up are leadership, collaborative work and the ability to adapt.

He also spoke about the technological skills needed in the present world.

"Build upon the technology skills... that might not have direct relevance to your immediate goals," he said, urging the graduates to look to blockchain technologies and data analytics to stay relevant in the current economy.

Most importantly, Mr Ng wanted young Singaporeans to have strong character. He said: "What is in your character that will spur you on? For young people in Singapore, and actually most Singaporeans... we have a 'kiasu' attitude.

DON'T STOP LEARNING

In Singapore culture, we have that built into many of us, but keep that drive going. Don't lose that spark of joy that drives us to want to learn.

MR NG CHEE MENG, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, on the drive to learn.

"But if there's one thing I would like to inject into our learning, it's the entrepreneurial dare."

He explained that this is the attitude to want to make good out of circumstances and the willingness to try new things, even failing in the process.

At the reception held at Singapore Khalsa Association, some 50 Sikh graduates received plaques for their academic achievements. The annual event was organised by the Young Sikh Association.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, some graduates agreed that they needed the attributes laid out by Mr Ng.

Bank data analyst Sharanjeet Kaur Dhaliwal, 27, said: "We need more skills like people skills. It's not about the paper qualifications anymore, but about putting your knowledge into application."

Ms Kaur, who had recently switched from marketing to data analysis, said graduates must also be willing to take risks.

"I think it is important to be willing to try and make the change even with uncertainty. We have to be willing to adapt, which comes easily once we can take risks."

Ms Jasveen Kaur, 23, who works in public relations, said the job market is very competitive for young graduates.

"I think it's about networking and how you market yourself. We also have to be open to learning new technical skills and picking things up," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'Uncertain world offers many opportunities: Ng Chee Meng'. Print Edition | Subscribe