ITE Student Leaders' Forum (Closing Ceremony)

ITE Student Leaders Forum
21 September 2023


The National Youth Council (NYC) supported the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in the ITE Student Leaders Forum 2023 Closing Ceremony on Thursday, 21 September 2023.  143 student leaders across three ITE colleges attended the session.  Mr David Chua, Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Council (NYC) gave a keynote address on the theme, “Singapore – Our Future” and engaged participants in a Q&A segment which was moderated by Mr Muhammad Hamizan B M Jaffri. 

Context Setting

  • Mr Chua briefly introduced himself to the participants and shared about his career trajectory in the civil service. He also said that his role as the Chief Executive Officer of NYC was to advocate for youths’ concerns and provide opportunities for youth civic participation and leadership development through collaborating with stakeholders across the public, private and non-profit sectors.


Singapore’s future: Fundamentals in nation-building

  • Mr Chua shared about how youths could look at the different aspects of Singapore’s future using the SG Frame, which outlined the fundamentals in Singapore’s nation-building. He said that there were three aspects of the SG Frame: (i) Hardware; (ii) Software; and (iii) Heartware. 
  • Mr Chua explained that the “Hardware” and “Software” were infrastructures that had to be in place to ensure Singapore’s sovereignty and thriving economy. He added that good governance was key to building trust and confidence between the Government and citizens, and should not be taken for granted. 
  • Mr Chua said that the “Heartware” was Singapore’s social safety net and comprised elements that contributed to Singapore’s success as a maturing nation. 


Qualities of good leadership

  • Mr Chua shared that there were generally four roles in leadership: (i) Activist; (ii) Advocate; (iii) Influencer; and (iv) Leader. He also shared about the qualities that a youth should develop to become an effective leader:
    • Align with national interests
    • Build trust
    • Organise for impact/action
    • Triangulate and make sense of different sources of information
    • Relate to the masses
    • Consider trade-offs and different perspectives
    • Empower others to take action 
    • Partner with stakeholders across sectors 
    • Stay curious and question assumptions.
  • Mr Chua said that leaders would have to operate in a reality with hard truths, ground truths and messy truths:
    • Hard truths referred to being aware of the challenges that Singapore would have to manage, such as an ageing population, decreasing birth rates, and an unstable geopolitical situation.
    • Ground truths referred to doing ground-sensing and probing to better understand on-the-ground sentiments and issues. 
    • Messy truths referred to questioning the assumptions, recognising gaps and pushing boundaries to seek solutions. 
  • Mr Chua said that a key leadership quality was to be adaptive and have the ability to suit the changing needs on the ground. He added that the highest tier of leadership was the ability to empower others to take action, cultivate constructive partnerships and constantly explore innovative ways of solutioning. 


Question and Answer Segment

A participant asked about pursuing a career in the Singapore Armed Forces, and how it was different from a regular job.

  • Mr Chua shared that joining the armed forces was an honourable job and encouraged interested participants to consider it as a career. He added that regardless of what job one has, the crux would be to find meaning and significance in it. 


The moderator said that there has been an increasing trend of online harms and asked how youths could play a part to prevent or stop online harms.  

  • Mr Chua said that community action was important to stop such actions. He said that there was a limit to regulatory action, and as a youth leader, participants should report issues to the relevant authority and step up to lead ground-up initiatives that address online harms. 


A participant asked about the avenues available for youths to be engaged in after the ITE Student Leaders Forum programme.

  • Mr Chua acknowledged that youths might feel unmotivated or unsure of how to contribute to the community, especially when faced with more immediate life priorities. However, he encouraged participants to stay in contact with NYC so that they would be aware of the relevant resources and networks to tap on when the time was right. 


A participant asked if community service involvement was valued as a leadership quality and if it would make them more employable.

  • Mr Chua said that in reality, not every employer valued community service involvement because of differing organisational priorities. However, he said that youths should still continue being involved in community service as it would help to build different skill sets that could be valuable to the workplace. 


Closing Remarks

  • Mr Chua said that leadership development was an ongoing journey and youths should continue to hone their skills and work towards building a positive future for the community and Singapore. 
  • Mr Chua encouraged participants to explore opportunities with NYC after the ITE Student Leaders Forum programme to continue their leadership journey, develop their capabilities and make greater community impact.

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ITE Student Leaders’ Forum