9 April 2014 - Welcome Speech by Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the SIM-University of Wollongong Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 11 April 2014, 10.00 am, at The Grand Hall, SIM Headquarters Block A, Level 4.
Welcome Speech by Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the SIM-University of Wollongong Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 11 April 2014, 10.00 am, at The Grand Hall, SIM Headquarters Block A, Level 4.
Professor Joe Chicharo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Wollongong
Ms Isabella Loh, Member, SIM Governing Council
Ladies and gentlemen
1. I am honoured to join you here today on this joyous occasion of the SIM-University of Wollongong Graduation Ceremony 2014. To our graduands, today will be a day you will remember for many years to come. It marks a major milestone in your lives – attaining a degree you have worked very hard for and moving on to another exciting phase of your lives. I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words to you this morning.
2. Armed with an IT degree and the drive to carve a successful career, I can assure you that the tech industry is a growing and a very exciting one for you to be in. In January this year, IT research and advisory company Gartner, predicted that worldwide spending in IT and telecoms will total US$3.8 trillion for 2014. This is a 3.1 percent increase from 2013 spending. In Singapore, projected IT spending in 2014 is forecasted to exceed US$20 billion. This is an increase of almost 4.4 percent over 20131.
3. Beyond these financial data points, I am certain you would also have witnessed the evolution of technology yourselves. We can see that from the endless flow of new innovative products, services and solutions that empower enterprises, and that we as consumers enjoy daily. The use of Facebook and Twitter has created a new way in how we socialize and interact. Many of us can't live without our mobile phones which serve as our diary, our roadmap, our food guide, our camera and occasionally we use it to call our friends. The ICT industry is exciting and fast paced. As IT graduates, you are joining the right industry at the right time.
4. As fresh professionals taking your first step into the industry, let me give you some useful points to consider.
5. The first is that the ICT industry can present you with countless opportunities. Some of these opportunities lie in critical and emerging areas such as IT security, data & analytics, cloud computing and games & entertainment, just to name a few. I understand that a large group of graduands here today will be receiving the Bachelor of Computer Science (Digital Systems Security), and I am pleased to note that IDA has been sponsoring the Top Student Award for this degree programme since 2009.
6. In a time where cyber attacks are seen to have the second greatest potential for national destruction after a nuclear attack, its significance has risen to a new high. Many of you would have remembered the unprecedented cyber threat on Singapore in November last year. Although the Government responded swiftly to defend its digital assets and contain the attacks, we must be ready to deal with similar coordinated threats in the future. Such attacks underscore the importance for organisations to be ready with the capability to handle these incidents and quickly restore services if there is a disruption.
7. Experienced cyber security professionals thus play a critical role in enhancing the resilience of our economy against cyber threats and contribute towards building a secure home for our loved ones and fellow Singaporeans.
8. Apart from the IT sector itself, IT professionals can also look to applying IT skills in many meaningful opportunities in other sectors. For example, in the healthcare sector, ICT is increasingly transforming the way healthcare can be made more accessible and affordable to everyone. Smart textile and wearable technologies for instance can allow for remote, automatic and uninterrupted monitoring of health status away from the hospital. It delivers accurate and fast results, while lowering the costs that patients have to bear as compared to traditional health checks by doctors. In education, ICT will totally revolutionize learning in the classroom through highly engaging experience and instant access to global information. My future grandchildren and your children will learn differently and more effectively. ICT will impact our future generation's lives much more than it did to ours.
9. The second point I would like to make is that as technology continues to evolve, it is important for you to continue to learn and upgrade yourselves even after you leave this institution. I'm afraid to tell you that what you have gone through by studying very hard for your degree is only a foundation. It will not get you far in your jobs if you do not continue to keep up with changes in the domain knowledge of the industries that you are going to be in. Continuing learning will ensure that you will remain competitive, relevant, and able to the keep pace with the ever changing demands of the organisation and the environment you serve in. I cannot over emphasize the importance of this point. Many of you will find that what you have learnt so far is either insufficient or may not be applied directly in the jobs you do. But what you have learnt in your time at this institution will give you an edge to grow and learn more and apply them in your jobs. That is the point of a university education.
10. The third and final point that I would like to make is that I hope you will take up jobs that allow you to create, innovate and add value. Or if you have a good idea or has a strong entrepreneurial inkling, you may want to consider creating a start-up. Singapore needs to revitalise its 'build' spirit in the areas of technology. As a nation that has been strong in deployment and adoption of technology, we now need to enhance our ability to create and build our very own technologies. In a highly competitive and globalised environment, it is through creation and innovation that Singapore can sustain our growth for the future.
11. The Government is doing what it can to help. There are a number of funding schemes available to encourage innovation and start-ups. IDA has also created tinker labs that allow people to go in and play with technologies or try building something as proof of concept. I urge you to find ways apply your ICT knowledge and skills and be proud that you are an ICT professional. I have been an ICT professional all my working life and I'm still proud to be one. You should too.
12. In closing, I join all professors, family and friends in congratulating all graduands today. You have worked hard, with the guidance, support and understanding of your parents and professors, and you can be very proud of your fine accomplishments. Although today is your graduation day, your lifelong learning journey has only just begun. May your road ahead be filled with exciting challenges and conquests!
13. All the best and thank you.
Note to Editor
1 Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending on Pace to Reach 3.8 Trillion in 2014, Gartner, 6 Jan 2014 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2643919