Staff and Students of ITE and Secondary Schools, Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for having me at this year’s ITE ignITE Skills Challenge Finals and Award Ceremony.
Launched in 2016, the ignITE Skills Challenge is held annually to get our students excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (or STEM), and the value of vocational and skills education. Though the ignITE Skills Challenge took a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, I understand we resumed virtually last year and today, we’re gathered here in person. It is great to see so many of you, coming together once again.
I heard that ignITE Skills Challenge is highly competitive, with only one in four participating teams making it to the Finals. To all finalists, congratulations! You have proven that you are all skilled individuals and winners in your own right. And to the rest, there is much to learn from pitting yourselves against this skills challenge, and I am sure you had a great time in the process.
Building up relevant competencies and skills for the future economy
Earlier, I toured some of the game challenges which featured a variety of problem-solving tasks and scenarios, and I am impressed by the students’ creative ideas and solutions. The games were designed to be challenging, engaging and fun, so that learning could be enjoyable and memorable, even while building up technical competencies and skills.
Many of these challenges involve some aspect of technology development, where the aim is to solve realworld problems and create useful products and services.
Through the challenges, you have learnt and applied a common set of tech skills such as programming and artificial intelligence. Such skills are very useful in the digital economy, a high-growth area in Singapore’s economy and globally. They are in demand and are transferable across different sectors as more businesses embark on digital transformation.
The soft skills you acquired throughout the course of the game challenges are equally important. These include creativity, critical thinking and teamwork, skills that employers are always looking out for to improve business competitiveness and growth. At a personal level, they guide how we interact with others, learn and grow, and achieve success in life. Do not discount the importance of building up your soft skills. Living through a pandemic has reminded us of the need to build resilience in ourselves, not just to cope, but to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Continue learning and investing in yourself
You have already taken a first step to learn new skills by participating in ignITE Skills Challenge. As you go through your higher education journey, I encourage you to continue investing in yourself by building up your skillsets – both technical and soft skills.
There will always be new and emerging growth areas in the economy that will bring about corresponding changes in demand for skilled personnel to power these new engines of growth. So it is not just about the skills you learn now, though they are important. We must also develop a mindset open to constantly improving ourselves and evolving our skillsets, so that we are always ready to take on opportunities that arise. Pay attention to emerging trends and participate in new experiences in or outside of school, whenever you get a chance.
As you continue to hone your skills, I encourage you to uncover your passion and aspirations. Do not set limitations to what you can achieve. I am a big believer of mentoring. I have personally mentored ITE students for many years, so I urge all of you to consider joining mentorship programmes or find a mentor who can lend a listening ear, share lived experiences, and help you explore new areas of interest to support your personal growth. The Mentoring Alliance for Action (AfA) was set up last year to give our youths greater access to mentoring. I invite you to explore an initiative called WeConnect, an online mentorship platform where you can find out more about mentoring programmes and mentors that best cater to your needs and life-stage.
To conclude, I would like to thank all the secondary schools, teachers and students for your strong participation in this year’s ignITE Skills Challenge.
I also want to thank ITE for organising this event, which is now in its 6th year. ITE plays a key role in our education system by providing students with a hands-on learning pathway, equipping them with work-ready skills and a strong foundation for future upgrading. This helps to support the diverse strengths and aspirations of our students. And if I may add, I have met many ITE educators and colleagues, and I must say they are probably some of the most dedicated and passionate educators you can find.
A big round of applause to them!
Thank you and all the best to our finalists!