Speech - Address by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at 2023 ITE Graduation Ceremony at Tay Eng Soon Convention Centre, ITE HQ on 21 July 2023, 3.30pm

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  • Publish date:21 Jul 2023

1. A very good afternoon to all graduates, families and faculty of ITE. Let me first start by congratulating all our graduates and award winners. You have worked very hard to be here.

  • Before we give out the awards, we always like to remind you that you are here not just because of your hard work and intelligence. You are also here because of the love and support of your families, and also opportunities given to you by society and the care of your faculty.
  • So let us join our hands in thanking the faculty, the families who have made it possible for our graduates to be here. Thank you.

2. All 14,000 of you will join the ranks of ITE's 550,000-strong alumni, who contribute to Singapore in different ways.

  • As we celebrate your efforts and accomplishments, we also look forward to your contributions.

3. I would like to share three reflections on how we can prepare for a dynamic future together.

Take Charge of Your Own Learning

  • First, this is perhaps the end of only one chapter of your life. As you complete this chapter, you will be opening a new chapter of learning.
  • The world is becoming more adapted. Changes are coming in fast and furious.
  • The question is, how can we prepare you and how can you prepare yourself for this new environment? Beyond your work, no matter how busy you are, always be aware of what's happening beyond your own world.
  • Secondly, we must have the agility to be able to adapt and change. Never believe that whatever we teach you and equip you now will be sufficient and whatever we have done for you is the foundation.
  • Upon this foundation, we hope that you will go forth and scale even higher places. So be aware, and develop the ability to read the signals of change.
  • Never get stuck in doing what you are doing. No matter how good we are in a certain set of skills, we must always be prepared to look around, at adjacent skill sets that we can acquire to strengthen our value proposition.
  • The last thing you want is to keep perfecting skill sets that are no longer relevant. Be constantly aware of what's happening around you, have the ability to read the signals of change, but most importantly have the agility to make sure that we adapt to the circumstances.

5. Your peer, Haikal, exemplifies these three As:

  • Haikal graduated from the Nitec in Facility Technology under the ITE's Traineeship Scheme in 2015. He valued the opportunity to work and study concurrently, because he knew that he would learn best through on-the-job training.
  • After completing National Service, Haikal observed the skills disruption taking place across the economy, and saw the need to upskill, to keep up with changing demands in the job market.
  • So he secured a place in the Work-Study Diploma in Mechanical and Electrical Services Supervision, opting again for the work-study modality that suits him. With the guidance of his company mentors from CBRE Global Workspace Solutions, he acquired critical and complex skills like technical communication, working with digital models, and risk analysis.
  • Haikal's efforts paid off. He has done well, and was promoted to take on a coordinator role in his company.

6. Haikal's experience is testament to the power of learning throughout life.

  • I hope that you will practise this same openness to learning, such that it becomes a reflex, and your instinctive reaction to the changes that will confront us.

Changes to the Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP)

7. To support individuals in taking charge of their learning, and achieving their aspirations, we will continue to broaden choices and increase porosity in our system.

8. When many of you joined ITE, some of you enrolled in Higher Nitec courses through the Direct-Entry-Scheme to Polytechnic Programme, or DPP, introduced in 2013 as a pathway for Normal (Academic) stream students.

9. A key feature of the DPP is the polytechnic progression guarantee.

  • DPP students who meet the qualifying Grade Point Average (GPA) are guaranteed a place in a polytechnic course mapped to their current ITE course.
  • Today, around 900 DPP graduates across the 18 Higher Nitec courses benefit from this guarantee.

10. With the removal of stream labels under Full Subject Based Banding, the DPP will no longer continue in its current form.

  • But we will preserve the polytechnic progression guarantee within the new ITE curricular structure.

11. From the 2027 polytechnic intake, the polytechnic progression guarantee will be extended to all eligible students from all courses, subject to them meeting the GPA requirement.

  • With this, all ITE upgraders are eligible to access a guaranteed place in polytechnic based on their efforts in ITE, regardless of past performance or entry point in ITE.
  • For example, any student from the Higher Nitec in Accounting will get a place in a mapped course, such as the Diploma in Banking and Finance, if he or she meets the GPA requirement.
  • We expect the top 10% of Higher Nitec graduates, or around 1,000 students, to benefit from this change.
  • This move widens access to the guarantee, while retaining the academic rigor of a polytechnic education.

12. MOE will release more details of the changes.

13. I encourage all Higher Nitec graduates to continue to upgrade via the diverse diploma pathways available, based on your aptitude and interest.

  • Beyond the polytechnic pathway, the Work-Study Diploma and Technical Diploma are also valuable hands-on pathways which ITE has expanded over the past few years.
  • These provide apprenticeship-based training and ensure our students are trained with industry relevant skills.
  • And for those who choose to work first, there are opportunities to access modular courses, so that we keep our skills current.

A Stronger Nexus Between Institutions and Industry

14. Besides taking charge of our own learning, we must also prepare for the future by equipping ourselves with frontier skills. To do this, we need to build stronger partnerships between our institutions and industry.

  • When institutions and industry work together, we build a robust and current curriculum for our students, and by extension, a strong and competitive economy.

15. ITE's mission has always been to deliver industry-focused training, in partnership with a wide network of over 5,000 industry stakeholders.

  • Many of these stakeholders have come onboard to co-design and co-deliver ITE's enhanced curricular structure.
  • Now in its second year of implementation, the enhanced curricular structure expands ITE's signature focus on workplace learning, and strengthens ITE's ties with industry.
  • Students get to deepen their skillsets through two industry attachments, while industry gets to shape the workforce of tomorrow.

16. Damian is one of many examples that showcase the mutual benefits of such industry attachments.

  • Damian is a cybersecurity talent from the Higher Nitec in Cyber & Network Security. He is serving his IA at IPDC Solutions, one of Asia's top cybersecurity service providers.
  • IPDC Asia recognised Damian's exceptional aptitude, and has entrusted him with a high-profile project.
  • In exchange for their partnership, IPDC can tap on Damian's passion and skills to develop solutions, and potentially secure an important project. More fundamentally, IPDC also stands to influence, train and retain the next generation of talent from the very start of their education journey.
  • Likewise, Damian will also learn much from this industry attachment, with richer experiences, and deeper skills that ready him to take on the challenges of a fast-moving world.

17. Efforts like ITE's enhanced curricular structure will enable us to thrive now and into the future. With a strong nexus between institutions and industry, we will enable our students to become even more workforce-ready, and our companies to extend their competitive edge.

Make a Difference to Your Community and Country

18. Let me now share my last reflection. If there is any message you take away today, I hope it will be this: The best way that you can secure your future, our future, is also for you to contribute back to society and country.

19. Recently, I met several ITE students at the launch of the Singapore Young Leaders' Programme (SYLP) and was inspired by their energy.

  • At the SYLP, we agreed that true success is collective success. To move forward as a society, we need to look out for each other and help one another along the way.

20. Tasneem, from ITE College East, did just that.

  • As Deputy President of the Student Council, Tasneem volunteered her time at many community projects and grassroots events.
  1. With her team, she obtained seed funding under the YMCA Youth for Causes programme and raised more than $100,000 for Bethesda Care Services, to benefit 1200 disadvantaged youth.

21. Tasneem has shown that all of us can contribute in our own ways to Singapore.

  • She saw a need and rallied the community to create an environment where everyone could thrive.
  • Similarly, many of us have had help and support in our journeys. I encourage you now to pay it forward and open up new opportunities for others.

22. Though the future may sometimes seem daunting, together we can overcome any crisis together, just as Tasneem has stepped forward to help others.


23. Finally, on this important occasion, I would like you all to remember the following simple things that I always shared with every ITE student.

  • The future is in your hands.
  • Our promise as a country and as an institution to you is this – so long as you want to keep learning, we will be here to support you.
  • Our wish is that you will continue to grow, create more opportunities for the next generation, and pay it forward.
  • Never underestimate what you can contribute to our country and society. I have confidence in you. Have confidence in yourself. Together, we can take Singapore to greater heights. Thank you very much.