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Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, at SIM University Convocation 2016

13 Oct 2016

Professor Aline Wong, Chancellor, SIM University;
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University;
Graduands;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

Introduction

1. A very good morning to all of you. To our graduands, this is your moment. We celebrate it proudly with you, for having reached this milestone in your academic career. You are now ready to step out into the world to make your mark.

2. This is an exciting time for you, but there will be challenges ahead. Jobs and employability are on the minds of many Singaporeans, including new entrants into the workforce. I hope to share with you three messages that can help you turn this challenge into opportunity.

Being Nimble

3. First, be nimble. At this year’s National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that one of his wishes for Singapore was for us to be blessed with “divine discontent”. This means never being “satisfied with what we have”, and always wanting “to do better”. Having this quality encourages us to constantly look out over the horizon, sense shifts in the winds of change, and constantly position and re-position ourselves to make the most of emerging trends and unfolding opportunities.

4. Some of you will land jobs right after graduation, while others will take a while to find your calling. I encourage all of you to develop and improve yourself regardless of your position. The economy will always experience change, so learning and developing cannot end after graduation. We all need to adapt to the demands of the economy throughout our careers. To stay relevant, we can continuously upskill and reskill through the national SkillsFuture movement. Workforce Singapore (WSG) and e2i have also intensified efforts to help jobseekers like yourselves find quality employment. 

5. Additionally, the National Jobs Bank will soon be transformed into a one-stop online marketplace. You will be able to explore new career opportunities and conduct job searches anytime, anywhere. However, you will also need to seize the opportunities, be open to trying jobs and industries that you might not have thought of previously, in order to grow your careers.

Being ‘Resilient’

6. Second, be resilient. In the early days of nation-building, many of our forefathers were entrepreneurs. Despite formidable odds, they rolled up their sleeves, and worked hard to create better lives for themselves and their families. Their tenacity created wealth and jobs for our people, and build Singapore to what it is today. Our pioneers have shown us that you need a can-do spirit to achieve success

7. Your fellow graduand, Sim Kang Wei, knows this very well. Kang Wei has cerebral palsy, but was determined to complete his degree in Counselling. So he persevered through the demands of school, while taking on a part-time job.  Kang Wei’s story tells us that we can achieve our goals as long as we stay focused. I urge you to believe in yourself, and chase that rainbow.

Being ‘Innovative’

8. Last but not least, be innovative. For those of you with the passion and enterprising spark, perhaps you can strike it out on your own as an entrepreneur.  Allow me to share some examples of young entrepreneurs who embody the traits which I mentioned.

9. Many of you may be familiar with Carousell, a mobile marketplace that allows users to buy and sell items online. Carousell was started in 2012 by three university students – Quek Siu Rui, Marcus Tan, and Lucas Ngoo. After an immersion programme in Silicon Valley, they were inspired to use technology to create solutions on a larger scale. Today, Carousell has become a top lifestyle application in Singapore, and also attracts users from Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

10. Zopim is another successful Singapore start-up known for software which enables brands to have live conversations with website visitors. It was started in 2008 by Royston Tay, Wu Wenxiang, and Yang Bin Kwok, when they were still undergraduates. Their company received support from SPRING SEEDS, MDA and NUS. After years of hard work, Zopim grew to become a market leader in the online customer service space, and was acquired at a value of S$37 million by San Francisco-based software development company, Zendesk.

11. Some of you may also have heard of the Rotimatic – the world’s first automatic flatbread maker for the home. Developed by Mr Rishi Israni and Ms Pranoti Nagarkar, it has been featured on The New York Times, Fox News, and also Reuters. The idea for Rotimatic was born right here in Singapore by Zimplistic, a local company that also came out from Block 71. Rotimatic was brought to the market with help of NUS Enterprise and SPRING, and I understand it has also generated a lot of interest around the world.

12. Evidently, Singapore’s start-up community is thriving, and we are giving strong support for our entrepreneurs. So take full advantage of those resources, and turn your ideas into reality.

Conclusion

13. As you look forward to the future, I hope you won’t forget the people who have shaped your past. Your family, friends, teachers – they have supported you when you needed it most. They deserve a big round of applause too.

14. Also, I hope that you will continue to serve your community, wherever you are. SIM University has always emphasised the importance of service; it is deeply embedded in the culture of your school. And indeed, I believe this is a tradition that the school will continue to embrace, as it journeys towards being Singapore’s sixth autonomous university. As you seek to establish your career, it is also important to set aside time to give back. In so doing, you might even discover other talents and skills that could boost your job prospects, or help you carve out an alternative career.

15. Finally, I’d like to wish each and every one of you, the very best. You have the talent, resources, and will to build a better home for yourself and Singapore. So go ahead - the future is yours to make. Thank you.

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