Mr Andrew Chong, Chairman, ITE Board of Governors
Ms Low Khah Gek, CEO, ITE
Members of the ITE Board of Governors, and
ITE Staff, Parents, Graduands
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. A very good morning to everyone. Thank you for inviting me to this joyous occasion. I am very happy to be at ITE today to celebrate the achievements of more than 14,000 Nitec, Higher Nitec, as well as Technical Diploma and Work-Study Diploma graduates. My heartiest congratulations to all graduands for achieving this significant milestone!
2. Many of you started your education in ITE when COVID hit us in 2020. In the last two years, you adapted to learn through virtual lessons, and made friends despite scaled down student activities. You also had to deal with uncertainty. But all of you soldiered on bravely, extending support to one another and those in the community along the way. It has not been easy. I applaud your resilience and efforts.
3. This is why I am particularly thankful that you and your families are able to be physically here today to celebrate this important milestone. To our graduands, please join me in thanking those who have supported you in your journey in ITE - your family, friends, lecturers or mentors. Please give them a big round of applause! To our parents, thank you for journeying this road together with your children. To ITE staff, thank you for your dedication towards your students.
Attaining Work-Ready Skills for the Future
4. Despite the pandemic, the graduate outcomes of our Nitec and Higher Nitec seniors in the ITE Class of 2021 remained strong, with more than 8 in 10 of ITE students managing to find employment within 6 months of graduating. But it is not enough to just look at the here and now. Earlier this year, I shared in Parliament on the need to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, given the pace of industry transformation today. ITE is at the forefront of this endeavour, with strong partnerships with over 4,500 companies and employers providing internship opportunities for over 14,000 students each year. These partnerships enable students to develop critical industry-relevant skills, gain valuable work experience and progress to meaningful employment opportunities.
5. Beyond internships, these partners also recognise the importance of authentic learning settings to better prepare our students for the future workforce. For instance, through the Work-Study Diploma, or WSDip, programme, ITE students can work and learn at the same time. Employers value the WSDip programme’s unique practice- oriented workplace training model and industry-relevant curriculum.
6. Take Miss Suria Binte Saad for example. Suria is one of our top graduates from the WSDip in Community Engagement & Development. Her employer, Sport Singapore, has been ITE’s partner since 2019. Back in 2020, Sport Singapore was impressed by Suria’s strong leadership qualities and offered her the opportunity to upskill by enrolling in the WSDip programme. Suria jumped at the opportunity and has flourished in her course. Her learning in this programme built upon her skillsets and qualities, and she was promoted twice during her course! She also emerged as the top performer among her batchmates and will be receiving the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) Gold Medal Award. Congratulations, Suria!
7. The WSDips also provide an alternative pathway for students who may not be able to pursue a full-time upgrading programme. Mr Loh Guo Ming is such a student who enrolled in the Nitec in Web Applications in 2020. Guo Ming’s financial situation spurred him to work hard and excel in his studies to make his parents proud. With ITE’s assistance, Guo Ming was able to fully focus on his studies and today, he graduates from his course with a perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0, all while contributing to ITE and to the community as a Student Council member and a Student Volunteer at Heartware Network. I understand that Guo Ming has since successfully enrolled in the WSDip in Cloud Management & Operations, to further upgrade his skills. I wish him all the best in the course and future endeavours. Congratulations, Guo Ming!
8. ITE’s WSDip programmes have grown significantly, from four programmes and 109 trainees in 2018, to 36 WSDip programmes cutting across different industry sectors with more than 1,500 trainees in enrolment today. This is possible because employers see value in working with ITE graduates like Guo Ming, and in supporting their staff like Suria, to upgrade their skills. Many employers, such as Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel and Cold Storage Singapore, have also commended ITE for its WSDip programme, which helps to attract and train young talent to bring greater value to their company. WSDip cohorts who have graduated have enjoyed positive outcomes. 90% of graduates stay on in the same industry and enjoy an average of 20% increase in salary upon graduation.
9. Nitec and Higher Nitec graduands can look forward to even more upgrading opportunities to deepen your skills, as ITE plans to provide 1,000 WSDip places per year by 2025, up from around 500 places in AY2021. Let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation to ITE’s extensive network of industry partners for the strong support they have given to ITE. ITE will continue to strengthen its industry links to enhance students’ learning experience, and enable ITE graduates to be equipped with work-ready skills to prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Embracing Lifelong Learning
10. To our Class of 2022 graduands, your graduation today marks a milestone in your life, and another chapter in your lifelong learning journey. Our education system seeks to offer multiple upgrading pathways for everyone, regardless of age. Besides being your alma mater, ITE is also a place for your future reskilling and upskilling needs. In my engagements, I have met many graduates who returned to ITE to upgrade their skills and acquire new skillsets to transit to different careers altogether.
11. I would like to share the story of a special graduand among you today. Desmond is a Nitec in Nursing graduate at the age of 52! I heard that Desmond was affectionately known as the ‘dad’ of his class. Desmond was inspired by the nurses taking care of his grandmother when she was hospitalised to switch to a career in nursing after more than two decades of working in a desk-bound administrative job.
12. It has not been easy for Desmond, since he left secondary school more than 30 years ago. Despite the odds, Desmond put in tremendous effort in his course of study, embraced the full student experience here at ITE and was an active participant in college and community events. Today, Desmond is an Enrolled Nurse at Singapore General Hospital. I am delighted that Desmond will be receiving the Ngee Ann Kongsi Gold Medal award for all-round student excellence today. Congratulations, Desmond!
13. Desmond is an inspiration to all of us that it is never too late to learn and pick up new skills, broaden your skillsets and remain relevant in the job market. This may not be easy, especially when adult learners are also juggling family and other responsibilities, but Desmond showed us that it is possible with determination and resilience.
14. Through reskilling and upskilling, we will be able to remain relevant and ensure our well-trained graduates can maintain a competitive edge in the global job market. Like Desmond, I hope that all graduands will similarly embrace lifelong learning, and remember that you can always return to ITE to upgrade and upskill.
Possessing The Value of Giving Back
15. Other than equipping you with work-ready skills to secure good jobs and build your careers, ITE has also equipped you with lifeskills to help you navigate your career and life journey, and inculcated in you the spirit of giving back to the community.
16. The pandemic showed that the spirit of giving continued to shine among Singaporeans. A groundswell of community support from individual donors, corporate and community organisations helped to uplift the vulnerable and allowed us to emerge as a stronger society. This truly warms my heart, and is something that I believe in very strongly.
17. All of society must come together if we are to chart a common path forward. This is a key component of Singapore’s social compact, and something that we will develop further under Forward Singapore – an exercise for all of us to come together, examine our values and aspirations, and build a better Singapore.
18. So how can you, as our Class of 2022, give back to your community? Many of you have already participated actively in community service activities during your time in ITE. One such example is Project Refresh, a collaboration between North East CDC and Young NTUC which aimed to improve the living environment of low-income families staying in rental units. Through this process, these families have not only benefited from cleaner and more comfortable homes, you were also able to showcase your leadership abilities, sharpen your communication skills and demonstrate care for the community.
19. I encourage you to continue this spirit of giving back to the community even after you have graduated. One simple way you can consider giving back is to contribute to ITE as an alumni, through ways such as mentoring or providing opportunities for your juniors. Take Mr Amos Tan for example. He graduated from the Nitec in Info-communications Technology course in 2010, and started his own company in 2016 providing IT solutions, products and services. As a way of giving back to his alma mater, Amos has been offering internship opportunities to students from ITE College East at his company. Under his mentorship, these students have gained valuable work experiences and rich authentic learning that cannot be replicated in the classroom.
20. As you graduate and find success in your own ways, I hope all of you will also find opportunities to give back to your community.
21. In closing, I encourage all of you to tap on your ITE education to make meaningful contributions to Singapore. As you step into the next stage of your lives, be it pursuing further education or venturing into the working world, I am confident that your education in ITE has equipped you with the skills, knowledge and values required to excel in all you set out to achieve, and the foundation to learn and up-skill throughout life.
22. All the very best, graduands, as you continue to chart your own pathways and give your very best in all that you do.
23. Let me also take this opportunity to once again wish ITE a very happy 30th anniversary.
24. Congratulations once again to the Class of 2022!