21 July 2014
The EDB scholarship Award Ceremony at the straits room, Fullerton Hotel – Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good afternoon. I am happy to celebrate this important occasion with you, and to congratulate the 6 young men and women who will be awarded the EDB scholarship this year. I would also like to congratulate the parents, teachers and principals of the scholars, who have supported and guided you along the way. Please join me in appreciating the efforts of our scholars, and their parents, principals and teachers, with a round of applause.
Driving Economic Growth and Transformation for Singapore’s Future
2. The Economic Development Board was established more than 50 years ago to grow our economy and create good jobs for Singaporeans. The first EDB officers identified manufacturing as an opportunity to drive economic growth and provide good jobs during Singapore’s early years of industrialisation. They went out to engage, attract and anchor global firms to set up presence in Singapore. Manufacturing continues to be a key pillar of our economy today.We have built up our capabilities, and are global leaders in sectors such as Electronics, Energy & Chemicals, Marine & Offshore Engineering and Precision Engineering.
3. As our economy progressed and the aspirations of Singaporeans evolved, later generations of EDB officers drove the growth of our service sectors such as Infocomms & Media, Consumer Businesses and Logistics. EDB officers worked closely with our partners in the public and private sector, to create a business-friendly environment conducive for growth, and to meet the changing needs of companies from around the world, including our own home-grown companies. Singapore also invested heavily in education and training so that Singaporeans were ready to take up higher-skilled and better paying jobs.
3. Through all these efforts, Singapore is now a valuable partner to global enterprises seeking to grow in Asia, and to Asian enterprises including our home-grown companies, seeking to grow in international markets. Many global industry leaders like Halliburton, McKinsey and Unilever make their key business, innovation and people decisions in Singapore, to drive the company’s growth in Asia, and the world.
4. Singapore’s track record is based on the strong fundamentals that we have built up over the years – Trust, Knowledge, Connectedness and Liveability. These world-renowned companies could have set up operations anywhere in the world. Yet, they chose to do it in Singapore, because they see us as a trusted and reliable partner that delivers on what we promise.
5. We must continue to strengthen these fundamentals, but we must also evolve with changing circumstances. To achieve sustainable growth, Singapore cannot simply continue to do more of the same, or to put in more resources in a linear fashion. Instead, we must position ourselves where we can add most value. We will continue to move towards higher value-added activities and innovation. Only then can we capture new opportunities, create good jobs for Singaporeans, and ensure Singapore’s continued economic success. This is the challenge for EDB officers of today, and EDB officers of the future.
6. The EDB officers of today work across diverse industry sectors to help companies tap into the exciting growth opportunities in Asia and ASEAN. They match-make regional and global companies to create new business opportunities. They also support companies in deepening their understanding of the emerging markets in the region, and facilitating their operations in an integrated ASEAN. At the same time, EDB officers work to enhance Singapore’s global connectivity and assist companies to expand into the world market.
7. Beyond seizing new growth opportunities, EDB officers are also uplifting and transforming existing industries and enterprises to do better in a changing operating environment, and especially to cope with slower workforce growth.
They work in close partnership with colleagues from other government agencies and fellow Singaporeans to support companies in raising productivity, changing their business and production models, or expanding their regional production footprint, so that they are better positioned for sustained growth and relevance to Singapore’s future generations.
Developing Singaporeans for a Better Future
8. As we grow and transform our economy, we will also continue to ensure that Singaporeans are equipped with the right skills and attributes to take up the new and exciting jobs of the future. EDB officers are also working behind the scene to make this a reality.
9. I will share some current examples of our continued commitment to grow and develop Singaporeans, in line with our economic transformation. First, we want to groom more Singaporean business leaders who can drive business growth in Asia for companies. EDB officers are working with the Human Capital Leadership Institute to launch the Global-Asia Leadership Accelerator Programme. Targeting emerging business leaders in Asia, and especially Singaporeans, this programme will accelerate the development of young executives’ management skills, such as dealing with business complexities in regional markets, and building strong networks essential for doing business in Asia.
10. Second, with an increasingly sophisticated consumer market in the region, companies are now looking for people who can help them better understand their regional customers and markets, including through the use of data analytics. EDB officers helped to facilitate a partnership between the National University of Singapore and IBM, and established the NUS Centre for Business Analytics for students and professionals to gain the latest skills in business analytics. This will prepare them for careers as data scientists, business intelligence analysts and research analysts, to support companies’ growth strategies for the region.
11. Third, we strongly believe that manufacturing will continue to be an engine of good jobs and growth for Singapore in the decades to come. We are starting from a strong base. Our Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics have long been working closely with industry partners, to help train young Singaporeans to be work-ready, and to continually upgrade their skills even after they have started work. Take the precision engineering industry, for example. The Precision Engineering Vocational Craftsmen Programme offers study awards for deserving ITE students, so that they can secure good career pathways with attractive salaries, and become skilled production craftsmen.
12. As part of EDB’s Future of Manufacturing efforts, we are taking a whole-of-government approach in investing in the development and adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Our institutes of higher learning have responded strongly to the call to train Singaporeans in this area. For example, the Singapore University of Technology and Design, together with Nanyang Technological University, recently established a joint laboratory where our students, faculty and researchers can develop new 3D design and printing techniques.
EDB – Developing Leaders to Enable the Future
13. To continue EDB’s work in opening up new frontiers for Singapore’s economy, it must continue to attract good officers with the drive, dynamism and imagination to envision the future of Singapore; and the determination and perseverance to design and implement strategies to make it a reality. EDB officers must carry on the legacy of working closely with companies, to develop a shared vision and commitment for them to grow in Singapore. The strength of this public-private collaboration has played a critical role in Singapore’s economic growth.
14. As EDB scholars and officers, you will be given many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute.
I hope that you will use these opportunities well to build useful skills, including strategic thinking, cross-cultural understanding, working with companies from different regions and industries, and influencing and leading teams.
Always remember that what you do must serve the interests of fellow Singaporeans, and Singapore.
15. My very best wishes to our 6 EDB scholars as you embark on your public service career. You are joining an organisation with a rich and proud heritage. May you follow in the footsteps of outstanding EDB officers, many of whom have gone on to senior positions in the private, public and people sectors. I look forward to your contributions to building a stronger Singapore economy, and to improving the lives of Singaporeans. Thank you.