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Speech by GOH Ms Aileen Chia, Assistant Chief Executive, IMDA, at the Republic Polytechnic School of Infocomm Graduation Ceremony 2017


Speech by GOH Ms Aileen Chia, Assistant Chief Executive, Connectivity & Competition Development and Director-General, Telecoms & Post, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) at the Republic Polytechnic School of Infocomm Graduation Ceremony 2017 on 9th May 2017 2.00pm to 3.45pm at the Republic Cultural Centre

Mr. Yeo Li Pheow, Principal & CEO, Republic Polytechnic,

Members of the Board of Governors,

Members of the School Advisory Committee,

Distinguished guests, parents, graduands, ladies and gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to you.

I am very delighted to be with you today.

I would like to congratulate the Class of 2017 on your graduation. Today is a wonderful occasion to celebrate all your hard work and achievements these past 3 years and I share your excitement and joy as you embark on the next chapter of your life. Behind every graduate, are your families, lecturers and loved ones, who have supported and guided you as you pursued your studies. I am sure they are all very proud of you and here to support you today and I hope you have had the chance to thank them for their support all these years.

I would first like to specially congratulate your fellow graduand and valedictorian Miss Umaira Evelyn, who has persevered through many challenges in her life and earned a place on the Director’s Roll of Honour, win awards such as the Republic Award and was even selected for an internship in Japan. I am very sure she will tell you more about her moving journey during her valedictorian speech.

Indeed, all of You have reached an important milestone in your life but the journey does not end here. This is just the beginning. After today, you will go on different pathways. For the gentlemen, you will be entering National Service. For the ladies, you will either be entering the workforce or furthering your studies. Whichever path you may choose, there are two things I would like to share with you. First, you are in the right profession at the right time. It has never been a more exciting time to be an infocomm technology (ICT) professional. Second, to always have an open mind and never stop learning.

Digital Future – Digital Economy and Digital Society

The world is becoming more digitally enabled and driven, and we have entered into a new phase in our economy where digital technologies are transforming every sector, bringing about challenges and also opportunities. In our daily lives as you would have noticed too, that we are surrounded and constantly inundated by technology. Many of us are so dependent on it and have taken for granted that this is the way life should be, without even realising it. We rely on our mobile phones a lot and I’m sure a lot of us will feel like we’re missing an arm or really inconvenienced if we forgot our phones when going out. It is ok for many of us to leave our wallet at home but not our mobiles.

Globally, we see traditional business models being disrupted, with the emergence of companies like Uber, an international transportation network, and AirBNB, an online marketplace and hospitality service available in numerous countries. In Singapore, we are not immune to these disruptive technologies as well with familiar household names such as GRAB, Lazada, Taobao, and I think all of you can produce a longer list faster than I can.

We will definitely be seeing increasing digitalization going forward, especially with the rapid advancement of technology. At IMDA, we are leading digital transformation across all sectors - in our companies and businesses, our practices and of course our people. And we have seen encouraging progress. Take for example, the Old Tea Hut, a beverage takeaway shop that increased overall sales by 15% and expanded very quickly after deploying a mobile ordering system that allowed its customers to place advance orders and pay for them through their smartphones. Moving on, how we use and interact with technology will continue to evolve.

Right Profession, Right Place, Right Time

Let me talk about ICT talent next. ICT talent today is highly sought after. Although there are more than 172,000 ICT professionals, working across all sectors of the Singapore economy today, there are also about 20,000 job vacancies. There is demand for professionals in emerging areas such as cyber security and data analytics, with hiring expectations in these two years set to increase very rapidly. Job roles include data analysts, network engineers, software and application developers and cyber security analysts.

Talent development is a critical pillar for us and to ensure a strong pipeline of ICT professionals to power Singapore’s digital transformation, we are encouraging people, from fresh graduates, mid-career professionals and even non-ICT professionals to pick up ICT skills and continue upgrading. And for yourselves, students or fresh ICT professionals, there are many avenues of support as well such as our Industry Preparation for Pre-Graduates (iPREP) programme that looks to equip students with relevant skillsets and work experience through industry internships, and scholarships.

Let me share with you the story of this boy, Quek Kai Yu, whose story resonated with me. Kai Yu was an ITE student when he first discovered the world of infocomm technology. After being encouraged by his lecturer when they realised that he’s actually quite good at what he’s learning, Kai Yu set his sights on bigger targets. Kai Yu has since then excelled and moved from ITE to Polytechnic and is now studying Computer Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS), under IMDA’s National Infocomm Scholarship, and has strong interest in cybersecurity and software development. In between, he has also been honing his skills, including creating a prototype with his school team that won second place at the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a global tech competition for computer science students. The prototype is a device that aims to help facilitate better communication with people who are deaf and mute. Kai Yu still continues to work on and improve the device as he learns new skills and domain knowledge, with the eventual goal of having the device benefit his parents, who are both deaf-mute.

I graduated many years ago with an Economics degree. I thought I would be working in a bank or the financial sector. Never have I thought I would enter the infocomm sector and be fascinated by the pace of technological advances and market developments. The pace of change is tremendous that I found myself learning new things every day and having to keep pace with the relentless release of new technologies and innovations by tech giants and small start-ups both globally and locally. At IMDA, I have the honour and privilege of working with very passionate infocomm professionals to bring forth some of these innovations and benefits to our people, businesses and community through policy changes that help shape our society and economy. I’ve never looked back since I started my career with the infocomm sector.

Moving forward, the trend of digitalisation will but continue to grow. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), amongst its leading countries, 80% to 90% of their Internet users shop and bank online. In fact, they anticipate that by 2022, there will be 14 billion connected devices within the homes of their member countries. Imagine the amount of expertise and support needed for these to happen.

Forrester Research predicts that from 2017, the next wave of disruptive technologies will reshape industries and customer experiences. The key disruptive technologies include Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud Computing, and these will continue to see experimentation and advancements. I’m very glad that all of you here in this auditorium do not find these terminologies alien.

Keep an open & inquisitive mind

As you would already know People have always been the core of Singapore’s success story as they are our only natural resource. To stay competitive and relevant, in a digitally fuelled world, you need to keep an open mind, be inquisitive, and we must continue to learn. Just as new innovations and smart solutions will continue to emerge, ICT professionals will have to respond to these changes through upskilling, reskilling or picking up new skills and domain knowledge. And we’re never too old to do so.

Take for example, Mr Alvin Koh. Alvin was working as an ICT professional since he graduated with a degree in Information Systems. He was retrenched about a year ago at the age of 54, after having more than 30 years of extensive experience in computer systems and database administration. He shared with us that the ICT industry moves so quickly that what he learnt in school was almost obsolete by the time he graduated. He had to frequently learn on the job and pick up new skills quickly when software versions changed. So when he lost his job, he saw it as an opportunity to try something new and switch to a new career. Alvin is now happily working in a cybersecurity job role, after completing the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists programme, under the TechSkills Accelerator initiative.

Today, many of my colleagues at the IMDA are still picking up new ICT skillsets such as coding!


So I hope to leave with you, a message of hope and optimism. You are in a great place to seize opportunities. With new and changing technology comes new possibilities and the future is truly yours to create.

Being in the sector for so long, I really appreciated the saying that “it really doesn’t matter where you start, it matters how and where you finish”.

Once again, congratulations and well done!

Thank you very much.


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