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Be alive to ideas, people, values and purpose

2 Sep 2013

Mr Heng spoke on the future of jobs during the forum

What will be the future of jobs? And what will be the future beyond jobs? These were the key questions Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat discussed with some 270 students at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2013 on 30 August 2013 at NUS University Town.

Highlighting the employment prospects of the future, Mr Heng said that with the growing forces of globalisation and technology, jobs will move across locations, the nature of jobs will change, and the demands of jobs are likely to be higher.

"The challenges for Singapore are first, we need to be able to create jobs in enough numbers and enough quality to meet aspirations of Singaporeans. Second, we need to help develop our young so that they have the right attributes to find success in this new world, and enabling Singaporeans to go as far as possible; and those in the professional areas, it is my great hope to see many of them rise to the top of their professions. And third, for Singaporeans to continue to command a premium in the global labour markets," noted Mr Heng.

Given this context, students will have to be alive to ideas, people, values and purpose. Being alive to ideas refers to the ability of integrating content and skills — namely, creativity, critical thinking, analytical thinking and digital literacy. As to being alive to people, this entails cultivating a lively interest into oneself, people around us and people around the world. To be alive to values and purpose implies having the basic ideas of responsibility, respect, resilience, integrity and care. Such qualities will allow students to develop their own values and mould their characters.

Beyond securing jobs, Mr Heng felt that students should also be multidimensional. He gave the example of NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan who, besides helming the University, is also an avid traveller and artist.

Concluding his speech, Mr Heng said that students will determine whether Singapore will become Detroit, which is well-known for its automotive industry but has been on the decline until it went bankrupt, or Silicon Valley, which is a thriving high-tech hub. He is confident that students will shape Singapore for the better.

The Minister later fielded questions from the students and shared his views on topics such as the challenges of educational policies, the training of soft skills in schools, the bell curve grading system, the allocation of scholarships and the philosophy of education.

The Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum is an annual event organised by the NUS Students' Political Association. Past speakers included Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam.