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Speech at Institution of Engineers, Singapore 49th Annual Dinner

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, Fairmont Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre

Er. Chong Kee Sen, 
President of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES),

Distinguished Guests,

Friends and Members of IES,

  1. I congratulate the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) on its 49th Anniversary. Next year IES will turn 50. A significant milestone indeed. 
  2. Engineers are innovators, creators, builders, problem-solvers, and enablers of progress. For 50 years, you made possible the transformation of our economy and society: from rapid industrialization, and infrastructure development, to comfortable housing and quality of living. 
  3. Indeed, you have made a big difference in helping to create SG50, Singapore of today. Well done, engineers of Singapore.
  4. The contribution of engineers goes beyond physical transformation of our nation. When faced with seemingly impossible challenges, engineers embody the “why not” spirit and “never say die” attitude.
  5. For example, we were a 3rd world nation in many aspects in the ‘60s and ‘70s. One aspect where we were behind many other nations was IT. 
  6. Our Engineers, “hard and soft” (computer engineering, software engineering, data communication engineering, and so on), driven by their professional pride and passion for our nation, transformed Singapore into an “Intelligent Island”. All within a short span of 10 years. 
  7. Likewise, to secure our future survival, our water engineers came up with the breakthrough idea of “closing the water loop”, We are probably the first city and nation to succeed in turning every drop of water into two drops of water, and are now well on our way towards self-sufficiency in water supply. 
  8. Nation building is a journey with no end. So the jobs of Singapore Engineers are never done. Even though we have achieved much in the past, there is still much more we can achieve for our people in the future.
  9. In the past, you gave your best to help Singapore to catch up with the advanced nations in the world, and even overtook many of them along the way. In the future, we count on you to help Singapore keep up with changing times, and help shape Singapore into a more “futurised” economy and society for our people to live better. 
  10. We will need not only many good engineers for us to run faster, but also great engineers for us to dream better and see the future clearer. 
  11. One of our dreams is to transform our manufacturing industry of today into an industry of future manufacturing – where every piece of equipment and every part of the production process in a factory becomes smarter on its own (with the use of robots, Artificial Intelligence, Industrial Internet of Things), and yet connected globally to make the entire worldwide production network more flexible and more responsive. 
  12. And we have many other dreams which include: To transform Singapore from an Intelligent Island of today into a Smart Nation of tomorrow; build a greener, energy-efficient and more sustainable Singapore; create new space underground, above ground. Just to name a few. This is why we will always need good and great engineers for these dreams to come true. 
  13. Today, engineers are among the top five occupations in demand, in Singapore. 
  14. Engineering offers good jobs and exciting careers for our people. Our aim is to keep strengthening our core of local engineers in major sectors of the economy - manufacturing, IT, construction and more. Having a stronger Singaporean Core will also provide a more sustainable pool of talent as we transform our economy for future growth.   
  15. I believe we are not short of future talent for engineering. Our students are consistently top performers in the world for quantitative subjects. Besides attracting more of our young to study engineering, we also need to help more of them to take up jobs in engineering fields. 
  16. The industry can play an active role. 
  17. We are now formulating more than 20 Sectoral Manpower Plans to chart the future direction of every major sector of our economy. This will prepare ourselves better for the exciting jobs in the future, demanding skills in the future, and meaningful careers in the future.  
  18. We should give our students a better understanding of our future plans, and more opportunities to immerse themselves in the industry.
  19. Companies can do so by taking full advantage of SkillsFuture for interns to learn new skills at the workplace, and for new job entrants to work and learn at the same time. 
  20. We must also not neglect the mid-career engineers who have a wealth of experience. We need to help them to up-skill and re-skill to remain relevant, and to continue to grow professionally in tandem with the progress of the industry. 
  21. In this regard, IES has done much, and we will certainly like to do more with IES to provide more opportunities for mid-career engineers to take on new jobs and new careers in different industries. 
  22. Tonight, I join you in recognising the leaders in our engineering community and my heartiest congratulations to all of them.
    • Prof Er. Meng Hwa, the winner of the IES/IEEE Joint Medal of Excellence Award 2015. 
    • Past Presidents Er. Tan Seng Chuan and Er. Dr. Lee Bee Wah, who will be conferred the title of IES Honorary Fellow tonight. 
    • The first batch of 14 Chartered Engineers in Railway and Transportation.
    • The 29 engineering graduates from NUS, NTU, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and SIM University who will be receiving the IES Gold Medal.
    • And the 2 scholars who will be receiving the IES-Yayasan Mendaki Scholarship tonight. 
  23. Last but not least, I also thank the contributors to the IES-SG50 Scholarship Fund. Your generous support will enable students from needy families to pursue their passion in engineering. 
  24. To conclude, engineering will continue to make critical contributions in our next phase of growth as we move towards SG100. 
  25. IES has been instrumental in advancing the interests of the engineering profession in Singapore in the last 49 years. I look forward to doing even more together with IES. Together, we will develop and strengthen our local engineering core as we run faster into the future. Thank you.