Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the Lit Exchange

Mr Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)

Mr Desmond Choo, Assistant Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)

Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG)

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen  


1.         A very good evening to everyone. I am happy to attend this evening’s inaugural LIT Xchange, organised by Young NTUC, in support of the SkillsFuture Festival 2018.

2.         In recent years, structural changes to our economy and technological disruptions have been reshaping the demands on our workforce. These trends can present good new opportunities. One good example is ViSenze, a local start-up founded by Mr Oliver Tan. The company has been at the forefront of developing advanced visual search and image recognition solutions to help businesses in eCommerce and content publishing.  Technological changes have created new jobs in the field of deep learning, computer vision and machine learning.  These are new businesses and jobs which were not available previously.


3.         I urge our young Singaporeans to seize these new opportunities. To do that, we must ensure that we are adequately skilled for the future economy. Our strong economic position and education system have given us a head start, but we must not be complacent.  We need to constantly upskill ourselves to stay relevant and competitive. We must be flexible and adventurous, and be willing to learn and venture beyond our shores.  


4.         The Government will continue to invest heavily in our people. We will provide opportunities to all Singaporeans to maximise their potential.  The SkillsFuture movement is strengthening our national culture of lifelong learning for skills mastery. It has provided resources, funding and courses to Singaporeans looking to deepen their skills.  Working closely with Institutes of Higher Learning, the SkillsFuture series offer around 800 courses that focus on priority and emerging skills. The Earn and Learn Programme, a work-learn programme has also given fresh graduates from polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education a head-start in careers related to their discipline of study.


5.         Critically, for Singapore to punch above our weight, we must learn to learn together.  This is the only way we can be greater than the sum of our parts.  I am heartened to see so many aspiring youths coming together this evening to learn from one another.  Amongst you are passionate young working professionals, volunteering to mentor fellow younger Singaporeans under Young NTUC’s Youth Career Network. Since September 2016, more than 260 volunteer career guides have come on board to support over 1,400 youths in their career development. This peer-to-peer learning network exemplifies Singapore’s community spirit. I encourage our youths to continue to grow this gotong royong spirit.


6.         Suhaimi Zainal Shah, 28, is one individual who has benefitted from SkillsFuture and Young NTUC. Suhaimi is a teacher. As an educator, he understands the importance of continuous learning better than many people.  But because of his hectic schedule, he has to find new ways to learn.  So recently, Suhaimi took on a bite-sized online module,, where he learnt about the future of education and skills required to help his students. Apart from upskilling, Suhaimi also benefited from the experience when he expanded his professional network through Young NTUC’s Youth Career Network. He was under four-month mentorship with volunteer career guide, Gladys Ong, a senior curriculum planning officer at MOE.  During that time, Suhaimi and Gladys shared best practices and exchanged ideas.  It was truly win-win for the two of them.


7.         I am also pleased to see NTUC, SkillsFuture Singapore and key industry players coming together to provide resources and information for our younger Singaporeans to deepen their understanding of our fast-changing economy.  I encourage everyone to make full use of these opportunities to arm ourselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to progress.


8.         The future of Singapore is being shaped by our young Singaporeans. Your perspectives and feedback help to shape our policies. I will like to encourage all of you to actively share your views, concerns and aspirations.


9.         Having spoken to a few of you earlier, I have heard some of your aspirations and challenges. And more importantly, your passion and enthusiasm. Learning does not stop after you leave school. So, let me encourage everyone to continue to take charge of your learning, draw inspiration from one another and unearth limitless possibilities! 


10.       I wish everyone a fruitful conference.


11.       Thank you.