Go out and grab opportunities being created, PM Lee tells youth

October 25, 20165:20 am308 views
Go out and grab opportunities being created, PM Lee tells youth
PM Lee Hsien Loong at a dialogue with SIT students on Oct 24, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah

With anxiety building up due to the gloomy economic outlook, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sought to reassure young Singaporeans that a wealth of opportunities are being created for them and that they are well-placed to do well, so long as they have the resilience to press on through whatever challenges that come their way.

And how well Singapore does and what kind of society it becomes hinges on whether young Singaporeans seize these opportunities and are resilient and united in the face of uncertainties and change, he added, describing this generation of Singaporeans as “our hopes for the future”.

“As young Singaporeans, the world is your oyster. You have many opportunities, many more than your parents had … The chances are all there. You have to seize them, make the most of them, and then you have to create more opportunities for yourself. And to do that, you have to be resilient,” said Mr Lee, who was speaking at a dialogue at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

That means having the “resolve and spirit” to take up the various schemes under the SkillsFuture movement, to be adaptable enough to pick up fresh skills and switch to new jobs and industries, and to “learn, unlearn and relearn things all of your life”, he said, to the 700 participants, comprising SIT staff and students, as well as student union representatives from other tertiary institutions.

Acknowledging that, going forward, how the economy will be affected by technological advancements is one major uncertainty, Mr Lee added: “You have to gird yourself for whatever might happen, and adapt to new conditions as they come. And from time to time, you are bound to encounter downturns and setbacks. And we got to take them in our stride, and have the toughness and flexibility to soldier on, and see through them.”

Such an attitude has always been how Singapore managed to come through the many “difficult and uncertain moments” in the last 50 years, said Mr Lee, who cited separation with Malaysia, economic challenges from the oil shocks and severe recessions, and threats to the country’s security and progress.

Just as earlier generations of Singaporeans managed to remain steady, press on and adapt to new conditions to overcome the challenges, Mr Lee urged young Singaporeans to respond in a similar manner — “steadily, resolutely and resourcefully”. He added: “We are not made of candy floss.”

He noted that the SkillsFuture schemes will help Singaporeans cope with the many changes in the years ahead, and make learning and adapting “a lifelong endeavour”. The polytechnics and ITEs, for instance, are implementing enhanced internships and Earn and Learn programmes covering many different sectors that will help students build on skills and transition more smoothly into the workforce. The universities are catering to the needs of working mid-career individuals, he added.

Mr Lee also said that not only have Singapore’s infrastructure and conditions vastly improved, it has built up a gleaming reputation as an “outstanding” place to do business.

This means that despite the uncertainties and challenges that will continue to crop up, there will be no shortage of opportunities for young Singaporeans, he added. Notwithstanding the current difficulties in the world economy, leading cities, Singapore included, “will continue to be vibrant, prosperous hubs of opportunities, where there is innovation, culture, influence”.

“We are feeling the pain of restructuring, but not yet seeing the dividends of our hard work. But we are pursuing all the right strategies and I am confident that given time these strategies will work for us,” Mr Lee added.

At the same time, new opportunities continue to be created for Singaporeans by connecting Singapore to the world, including by attracting multinational corporations to invest here over the decades, as well as opening up space abroad for Singaporean workers and companies, said Mr Lee.

While having the resilience and commitment to grab these opportunities are important to Singapore, Mr Lee said the country’s “real strength is that we are united, as a society … we work together”.

The country’s pioneers were much stronger because they not only contributed their individual skills and efforts but came together and worked as a team to transform Singapore from a village into a metropolis.

For decades, Singapore has the best workforce in the world, he said, citing findings from an international consulting firm Business Environment Risk Intelligence. He also noted the importance of the trust among unions, companies and the Government, which allows issues to be tackled with give-and-take on all sides.

“(To be able to work together) is the secret of Singapore… It is a big secret because it doesn’t mean you can do what I tell you we are doing,” he added.

Rounding up his speech, Mr Lee referenced the double rainbow that many took pictures of and posted on social media earlier this month, and cited a famous speech by founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew 20 years ago urging university students to “chase the rainbow”.

That message was a timeless one, relevant to each new generation, said Mr Lee.

“You will encounter challenges — rainy days, sometimes even thunderstorms. But if you press on through the storms and the rain, the skies will eventually clear, and then, if you have worked hard to get yourself into the right place, you will find your rainbow. So be confident, aim high, and do well,” he said. “And a generation from now, you will have built Singapore into something much better, something beyond what our imagination can dream of today. And then you can say we’ve done our duty.”


news source: todayonline.com

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