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From life sciences to lifelong learning

A biomedical science graduate developing policies to drive lifelong learning may seem like a job mismatch, but Ms Eileen Ng, assistant director of the Ministry of Education’s SkillsFuture Division, assures you that it is actually a better fit than you realise.

The 27-year-old Public Service Commission (PSC) Overseas Merit Scholarship recipient holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biomedical Science from Imperial College London, and Master of Science in Global Health Science from the University of Oxford.

She says: “My training in scientific inquiry has taught me some important transferable skills, such as using evidence and data to facilitate decision-making.

“For example, we need to design appropriate studies to evaluate the outcomes of policies or collect relevant data that will allow us to isolate the causes or drivers of issues. This is increasingly important with the emphasis on data-driven, evidence-based policy-making.”

As Ms Ng serves out her six-year scholarship bond in the public service, she herself has become adept at adapting her skills to suit different job roles.

PSC Scholarship holders undergo job rotations in various sectors under the Public Service Leadership Programme.

When Ms Ng graduated in 2014, she was deployed to the Municipal Services Office under the Ministry of National Development for two years, where she looked into streamlining the processes between the public agencies and Town Councils.

Thereafter, she did a six-month stint in the Housing and Development Board where she also looked at improving processes but, this time, from an agency’s perspective.

“Such rotations are useful because they allow us to be exposed to different parts of the public service to explore different areas of interests. They also challenge us to keep learning on the job,” say Ms Ng.

Walking the talk
In her current role at MOE, Ms Ng’s team helps to drive the SkillsFuture movement by developing policies and programmes that support Singaporeans in their lifelong learning journey.

She says: “It is increasingly important that everyone should continue learning even after leaving school because the faster pace of technological disruptions in recent years will bring about jobs that may be very different from today’s jobs and require very different skill sets.”

A firm believer in lifelong learning, Ms Ng recalls how her interest in human biology led her to pursue two degrees to deepen her understanding of the subject.

One of the highlights of her studies was her two-month internship at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark.

She recalls: “During the internship, I witnessed some of the coordination work done at the international level to improve health standards worldwide.

“It was a rare opportunity to see the behindthe- scenes work involved in helping countries level up their health practices and also to meet experts from all over the world.”

Ms Ng wants to continue learning and contributing to different aspects of work in public service.

“Being able to contribute towards measures that will matter to and improve the lives of fellow Singaporeans is important to me,” she says.