A good qualification alone will no longer guarantee a good job for life.
Unlike in the past, jobs may disappear faster than expected, made redundant through circumstances such as improving technology, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat at Temasek Polytechnic's graduation ceremony yesterday for hospitality and tourism management, and culinary and catering management.
Mr Heng cited a restaurant owner who told him about made-in-China robots that are programmed to cook. When that happens, would humans be the ones to programme them with new recipes or be made redundant by them? Mr Heng told the 320 graduands they must have skills needed by industry, and be prepared to learn all their lives to stay relevant.
He lauded the polytechnic system for being "industry-focused and practice-oriented" and said the Government was committed to investing in schools and all levels of post-secondary education.
He reminded graduands to have realistic expectations of salaries given their expertise, and that much also depends on the growth of the economy.
Mr Jarron Tham, who graduated with a diploma in product and industrial design, agreed with Mr Heng's advice. "As designers, we are trained to be thinkers, and we should not be just doers like robots," said the 20-year-old, one of three Temasek Polytechnic winners of the Lee Kong Chian award. "Design must be driven by a sense of vision and personal motivation."
A total of 5,007 Temasek Polytechnic students, including a pioneer batch of 66 graduates from its early childhood studies course, will receive their diplomas this year.
At Ngee Ann Polytechnic's graduation ceremony yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah said polytechnics have kept pace by ensuring that courses are relevant to Singapore's industrial demands.
Addressing the 31 graduands from Ngee Ann's pioneer batch of sustainable urban design and engineering programme, she said: "Your role in building a sustainable future for Singapore is critical and increasingly so, as we move towards the vision of our urban landscape as a City in a Garden."
About 5,000 Ngee Ann students are graduating this year. Some 244 received their diplomas at the first ceremony yesterday.
One of its graduates, Ms Kristen Ong, is putting on hold university plans for a year so as to learn more about the film industry, hone her skills and work on her own projects at the same time.
Said the 20-year-old film, sound and video graduate who hopes to become a film-maker: "A lot of young people feel the creative industry here cannot support them, but I want to remain here because there are many stories that need to be told."