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The Infocomm Future Awaits You

11 July 2005 - Convocation Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At NTU's School of Computer Engineering Convocation Ceremony, Nanyang Technological University, School of Computer Engineering Auditorium.

Convocation Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At NTU's School of Computer Engineering Convocation Ceremony on 11 July 2005, Nanyang Technological University, School of Computer Engineering Auditorium.

Deputy President of NTU,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Afternoon.

1. I am very happy to be with you here today.

2. This is a special day for you, a milestone, as you embark on the next stage of life, be it returning to National Service, furthering your education, or entering the workforce. Or perhaps like Bill Gates and Sim Wong Hoo, starting your own company and making a name for yourself! Many of you are probably filled with mixed feelings, of excitement, anticipation and a little apprehension, as to what the future holds for you.

3. I must say this is a very special cohort. When you made the decision to go into computer engineering, it must have been only shortly after the bust. Either you were all very bold and passionate about IT, or foolish and uninformed. I trust it was the former. And I'm convinced your passion is not misplaced. Infocomm technology has changed the world - economically, socially, even politically. And will continue to do so for years to come.

4. Most of you were born around the same time the IBM PC was born. And probably take IT for granted. Your parents will probably remember the days when IT was more exotic - the domain of scientists and geeks. And computers filled half a room, and cost half a million.

5. Today, IT is pervasive. The mobile phones in your pockets, the ATM cards in your wallets, probably even the light controls in this auditorium, contain vital pieces of IT hardware and software. Today, hardly any new innovation or discovery occurs without the aid of IT. Without computers, scientists could not have sequenced the human genome, and the much vaunted life sciences industry could not have taken off. No prototype of a car or aircraft is built today, without being first modelled and test simulated over and over on a computer.

6. If you look at the top 40 global companies in the Financial Times Global 500 ranking, 1 in 8 companies is an IT company. This is remarkable, considering that as recently as just 20 to 30 years ago, many of these IT companies didn't even exist. The Infocomm industry is, and will remain, an important industry for Singapore. It employs over 100,000 people, and generated a whopping $34 billion dollars in revenues last year. More importantly, it is a key enabler of other important sectors, such as life sciences and financial services.

7. My key point is that the IT profession is one where you can be more than just an employee number in a humongous organisation. It is not just another mundane office job. It is a dynamic profession, in an exciting and fast-moving industry. It is one profession where you can make a difference, where the work that you do can have impact across the whole organisation, society, or even the world.

8. And you are not limited to just jobs in the IT sector. Infocomm graduates are in demand across the economy. From logistics and manufacturing, to banking and retail, Infocomm is everywhere! This means plenty of exciting choices, options and opportunities!

9. On our part, the Infocomm Development Authority, or IDA, will continue our efforts to attract the best and brightest to this industry, and to keep the industry vibrant. For example, IDA's National Infocomm Scholarship scheme works with industry partners such as Microsoft, to offer mentorship and attachment opportunities to students. So far, 4 NTU students have been awarded the NIS scholarship this year. I hope to expand the scheme to benefit and attract even more bright students into IT.

10. For existing IT professionals, IDA set up an Infocomm Competency Council recently, to look into their training needs and career paths. And for IT companies, IDA pumps millions into the industry each year, through a variety of grant and pilot schemes, to help catalyse new capabilities, and train IT manpower.

11. A few months ago, we started on an exercise to draw up the iN2015 (Intelligent Nation 2015) masterplan, that looks ten years into the future to identify new possibilities and opportunities for Singapore's Infocomm industry, the economy and society. In short, IT is one of very few sectors in Singapore with its own "fairy godmother" to champion and look after the industry and its professionals.

12. We don't do this alone. We work very closely with industry associations such as the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation and the Singapore Computer Society and with educational institutions such as the universities and schools. In this regard, I would like to commend institutions like NTU, for having done a fine job in nurturing people like yourselves. NTU's School of Computer Engineering has been in the spotlight this past year, producing champions in various competitions, such as the Microsoft Imagine Cup and Google's India Code Jam. The school was also invited by Vietnam to design its first virtual reality laboratory, which opened earlier in May.

13. I am realistic that not all of you will end up being an IT professional. From past statistics, about half our IT graduates go on to work in non-IT professions. I see this as a testament to the top-notch training of the mind that you get in an IT course, that produces graduates who excel in whatever field they choose to be in. Regardless of which path you take from here, I hope Infocomm continues to have a place in your heart.

14. Let today be the start of a new dream and an exciting adventure in the Infocomm industry. The future awaits you.

15. Thank you.