The arts will always have a place in society

Education Minister Lawrence Wong shares about careers in a post-COVID-19 world and the importance of lifelong learning.

Jeremy Na

Just like that Khalid song, Young, dumb and broke. Ok maybe not dumb but definitely the other two.

Published: 30 October 2020, 6:33 PM

With the current pandemic, job security and career sustainability remain a common worry among youths. With a recession looming and an increase in retrenchment rates, fresh graduates looking for jobs may be left wondering about the certainty of their future.

However, in an Instagram live session with social entrepreneur Isaac Ong, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong encouraged youth to remain positive and “look ahead with confidence.”

The live session was the third episode of Isaac’s #ASKNOW series in which he aims to answer burning questions about current affairs. This episode of #ASKNOW was in partnership with the National Youth Council and was sponsored by Gushcloud and Now Academy Singapore.


Isaac and Mr Wong spoke about career-related issues youth may face and the future of the arts in Singapore. PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER/@NOWACADEMYSG


Over the course of 50 minutes, Mr Wong and Isaac covered topics like changing career landscapes, choosing less common jobs and lifelong learning.

Mr Wong first addressed the issue of how the pandemic has affected our economy. He stated that while the world braces for a recession, Singaporeans should stay positive. 

He said: “It is uncertain, but I think we should take heart that we can emerge stronger from this crisis.”

Pre-COVID-19, many were already concerned about automation taking over their jobs. The pandemic has only worsened these fears as some worry it may have accelerated the push for automation in companies.

However, Mr Wong urged Singaporeans to embrace technology instead of fearing it. He said: “Let’s not be afraid of technology and automation, the trend is unstoppable… but technology will bring greater convenience, greater benefits to all of us.”

He added that throughout history, humankind has been able to harness technology for our betterment and add jobs for everyone. Furthermore, machines are unable to replicate the same creativity and imagination that humans are capable of.


Mr Wong briefly touched on how BlackRock trading implemented AI that worked together with investment fund managers to improve stock picking. PHOTO CREDIT: ENERGEPIC.COM VIA PEXELS


He also acknowledged the fears that fresh graduates may have about finding jobs as the economy is down but has stated that there are increased efforts to help these students such as traineeships.

“Perhaps you feel your dreams, your ambitions have been set back – don’t be discouraged because this is only a temporary setback. At some point, COVID-19 will pass. At some time this crisis will be over. The economy will get better.

“The opportunities are out there and we will do everything we can to support our young people, our youths in seizing these opportunities for the future,” said Mr Wong.

Many recall the Straits Times survey that caused quite a stir among the arts community in Singapore where they were listed as non-essential jobs. When asked about his stance on arts careers in Singapore, Mr Wong was very clear. 

“The arts will always have a place in society and the government will continue to encourage that,” he said, assuring listeners that the government will also continue to invest in the arts in our education system, especially in a post-COVID-19 world.

For those interested in a career in the arts, Mr Wong encourages them to conduct adequate research and warns against going into a career with rose-tinted glasses. 

He shared that it is important not to think of arts in such black or white way where you’re either doing arts full time or not at all. Mr Wong himself still frequently enjoys playing his guitar and performing even though his professional career is in politics.


Mr Wong is a fan of playing the guitar and has performed multiple times despite having a career in politics. PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER/@LAWRENCE WONG


Lastly, he shared about the importance of having a lifelong learning attitude. He spoke about how important it is as a way of life as it allows you to continually be the best version of yourself. 

Remember, learning gives you greater power and ‘with great power comes greater responsibility’” he said, quoting the popular Spiderman line.

For the less privileged who undertake extra studies to keep themselves up to date with new skills, Mr Wong stated that for public institutions, the government will do their best to support them financially.

So long as you have a place in a school, in a tertiary education and you want to pursue your studies, help will be available for you financially,” he said.


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